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promissory estoppel

n. a false statement treated as a promise by a court when the listener had relied on what was told to him/her to his/her disadvantage. In order to see that justice is done a judge will preclude the maker of the statement from denying it. Thus, the legal inability of the person who made the false statement to deny it makes it an enforceable promise called "promissory estoppel," or an "equitable estoppel." Example: Bernie Blowhard tells Arthur Artist that Blowhard has a contract to make a movie and wants Artist to paint the background scenery in return for a percentage of the profits. Artist paints, and Blowhard then admits he needed the scenery to try to get a movie deal which fell through and there are no profits to share. Artist sues and the judge finds that Blowhard cannot deny a contract with Artist and gives Artist judgment for the value of his work.

See also: estoppel 

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