Legione v Hateley

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Citation: Legione v Hateley (1983) 152 CLR 406

This information can be found in the Textbook: Paterson, Robertson & Duke, Principles of Contract Law (Lawbook Co, 3rd ed, 2009), pp. 149-50 [9.60]

and also the Casebook: Paterson, Robertson & Duke, Contract: Cases and Materials (Lawbook Co, 11th ed, 2009), pp. 598-603 [25.85-25.90]


Background facts

  • Contracts for sale of land.
  • Deadline dead set, purchaser’s solicitors called and asked to have another week.
  • Secretary for the vendor’s solicitors said it should be ok but need to get instructions.
  • Purchaser took that as an extension, tried to make the purchase after the deadline.
  • Rejected by vendor, contract has been withdrawn.


  • Induced to believe they have an extension.

Legal issue


Gibbs CJ & Murphy J:

  • The secretary had authority:
    • "The solicitors...must be treated as having the authority[1]."
    • "When the solicitors selected or permitted Miss Williams to speak on their behalf, in their capacity as solicitors for the vendors, her words bound the vendors[2]."
  • The conduct of secretary induced the assumption that there is an extension.
    • "The statement by Miss Williams was in our opinion both intended and likely to induce a belief in the mind of the purchaser' solicitors that the vendors would not enforce their strict legal rights until they indicated their intention to do so[3]."
  • Therefore, the Vendors were estopped from treating the contract as withdrawn/terminating the contract.

Mason & Deane JJ:

  • Promissory Estoppel can only result from a clear representation.
  • Secretary’s conduct did not constitute clear and unequivocal representation.
  • No estoppel arose.

Brennan J:

  • Secretary and solicitors didn’t have the authority to extend without instructions anyway, and purchaser’s solicitors knew that.
  • Therefore, under no inducement or assumption.
  • No estoppel.

Final decision:

  • 3:2 majority - no estoppel


  1. (1982) 152 CLR 406, 421
  2. (1982) 152 CLR 406, 421
  3. (1982) 152 CLR 406, 421
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