Promissory estoppel

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Within contract law, promissory estoppel refers to the doctrine that a party may recover on the basis of a promise made when the party's reliance on that promise was reasonable, and the party attempting to recover detrimentally relied on the promise.


In Cohen v. Cowles Media Co. 501 US 663 (1991), the Supreme Court recognized promissory estoppel as a "state law doctrine creating legal obligations never explicitly assumed by the parties that are enforceable."


An agreement made by promissory estoppel will typically have the same binding effects on parties that a valid contract would. 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 this Fordham Law Review article, this UCLA Law Review article, and this University of Chicago Law Review article