NOTE: This article was published in May 2016 and reflects the law as it stands on the date of publication and not at any later date.
Proprietary estoppel claims can give rise to a particular issue: should the measure of the claimant’s relief be compensation for detriment or, more generously, enforcement of the relevant promise or assurance?
Detriment not expectation
The court’s primary task is to compensate the claimant for detriment incurred in reliance on an assurance. It is not to give effect to the assurance. The task is not simply, necessarily, or even in principle, to satisfy the claimant’s expectations Jennings v Rice  EWCA Civ 159, at -.
The courts have also emphasised that the award should not be disproportionate to the detriment suffered. A claimant’s expectations should be satisfied in a more limited way if they are “uncertain, or extravagant, or out of all proportion to the detriment which the claimant has suffered” Jennings v Rice, at para. 50.
Recent trend toward enforcement of expectation
There has been a recent trend to award relief which gives effect to the claimant’s expectations, and which is not limited to detriment Suggitt v Suggitt  2 FLR 875; Lothian v Dixon, Westlaw, 28 Nov 2014; Davies v Davies  EWHC 1384.
The purpose of this article is to attempt to reconcile these authorities with a detriment-based approach, in order to show that detriment remains the key concept.