promissory estoppel

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Promissory estoppel is a contract law doctrine that allows a plaintiff to recover damages, despite no actual contract, when the defendant made a promise that the plaintiff detrimentally relied upon, and the plaintiff’s reliance on that promise was reasonable.

An implied agreement made by promissory estoppel will typically have the same binding effects on parties as a valid contract. If a party breaches an obligation created by promissory estoppel, a court can choose to assign either reliance damages or expectation damages

Further Reading

For more on promissory estoppel, see these articles from the Cornell Law ReviewFordham Law ReviewUCLA Law Review, and St. John’s Law Review

[Last updated in March of 2024 by the Wex Definitions Team]