Enacting Promissory Estoppel into the Malaysian Law: Towards More Certainty in Litigation

  •  Wan Izatul Asma Wan Talaat    


Promissory estoppel is an equitable principle meant to prevent any occurrence of inequity or injustice caused by the action of the promisor in backing out from his promise, which initially led the promisee to act to his detriment.  This paper discusses the proposal to statutorily enact promissory estoppel into the Malaysian laws, which is based on three reasons: (i) to clearly define its parameters for the easier application by the courts because now that unconscionability is being the main focus in granting promissory estoppel, in lieu of detrimental reliance, the thin line surrounding its parameters are becoming more vague; (ii) to undo its limited interpretation and application as an equitable doctrine that is subject to numerous rules of equity, which may potentially arrest the development of equity and compromise the administration of justice; and (iii) to avoid  the statutory restriction imposed by Section 3(1) of the Civil Law Act 1956, which necessitates the reception of this equitable doctrine to be subject to the exclusionary phrase stated in the beginning of Section 3(1) denoting that its application of promissory estoppel in Malaysia can only be carried out only when there is a lacuna in such area of law.

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