After the High Court’s decision in Sidhu v Van Dyke, Australian proprietary estoppel is no longer fettered by the minimum equity principle in deciding quantum of relief. This estoppel may offer monetary compensation reflecting market value in informal land contracts cases. Informal contracts are rendered unenforceable by the Statute of Frauds, meaning contractual damages are not available. In this regard post-Sidhu proprietary estoppel appears to be a blow to the Statute of Frauds. This article argues that the estoppel does not completely undermine the Statute of Frauds. That is because the estoppel does not compensate for loss of profits as contractual damages do. Contractual damages and equitable compensation are measured by two different sets of mechanisms and oriented by different criteria. The amount awarded by post-Sidhu proprietary estoppel may lie somewhere between pre-Sidhu proprietary estoppel and contractual damages. Although post-Sidhu proprietary estoppel has commercial significance, it is still not as good as contractual damages in monetary terms. In this regard, post-Sidhu proprietary estoppel may still be fettered by the minimum equity principle in a more hidden way.
Wen, Dr Wei, Contractual Damages and Post-Sidhu Proprietary Estoppel: A Further Blow to the Statute of Frauds? (September 16, 2015). Property Law Review, Vol 5, 2015.