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Assessment Task 2: Research Essay (2,500 words)

Weighting: 40%



There has been a significant divergence between the law of England and the law of Australia in relation to the scope of promissory estoppel since the decision of the High Court of Australia in Waltons Stores (Interstate) Ltd v Maher (1988) 164 CLR 387.

Examine the differences between the Australian law and English law in relation to promissory estoppel. Do you think that English law should follow Waltons Stores in the development of promissory estoppel? Give reasons for your argument.

In your answer you should refer to English and Australian cases and academic commentary on the nature and scope of estoppel in equity as applied to promises that do not relate to land.

NOTE: Before you answer this question you should  read B McFarlane, ‘The Limits to Estoppels’ (2013) 7 Journal of Equity 250.

Must have used at least 10 sources, including the above Case and Journal Article.

Referencing: Assignments must contain accurate references in accordance with the Australian Guide to Legal Citation 3rd ed. Use footnotes, not endnotes. Footnotes are not counted in the word limit where they contain references only; no discursive footnotes (i.e. anything other than references) are permitted; if you include discursive footnotes these will be counted in your word limit. You must include a Bibliography, although this is not included in your word limit.

Extra information below:

The Research Essay provides an opportunity for students to examine more deeply some of the challenging and fascinating aspects of equity and to develop formal legal writing skills. These writing skills are essential tools of a lawyer: making submissions to court or writing about the law requires accurate research skills and a high level of written communication skills.

Aim of Research Essay: The aim of the exercise is for you to attempt to write an article to submit to a refereed legal journal such as the Australian Law Journal, or the Journal of Equity. You should assume that you are writing to qualified lawyers, but lawyers who may not be experts in equity.

use the Introduction to set out the argument to be developed (not just to repeat the question);

  • _understand the relevant law and can apply it to the particular question the subject of the essay;
  • _have developed his or her own argument through the essay;
  • _can write with appropriate use of legal conventions, and in an appropriate academic style.
  • _address all the main aspects of and clearly answer the question;
  • _can use correct grammar, punctuation and spelling;
  • _structure and organise the essay in a way that is easy for the reader to follow (the use of headings and sub-headings is encouraged);
  • _demonstrate a critically reflective and insightful approach to the issues raised by the question;
  • _display evidence of your research skills, using a variety of appropriate sources (i.e., scholarly writing and case law, including a full bibliography attached to the essay) and evidence that the research is current (not merely drawn from a textbook without checking to see if it remains current law);
  • _finish the essay with a conclusion that draws together the argument which has been developed through the essay in answer to the question.

Research and Referencing: Research skills are central to this assessment task. If you are not confident of your research skills, the following is a list of basic steps to take in addressing any research question in Equity and Trusts.

  1. Consult texts: Read a couple of authoritative general texts on the particular doctrine, case or issue, such as Heydon D, Leeming M, and Turner P, Equity Doctrines and Remedies (LexisNexis Butterworths, 5th ed, 2014) for a general understanding of the issues covered in the question. Check the library catalogue to see if there are any specialist texts on that topic area or question. Purpose of the texts is to provide a better understanding of a topic or issue, to illustrate the arguments which are made by other academics and to act as a stimulus for ideas and research. It is important to use texts as a resource for deeper understanding of an issue and not to refer to passages from texts as statements of fact.
  2. Cases: Do a subject and/or case search in case citators and search engines such as Austlii, CASEBASE, Firstpoint, or JADE for the particular topic to find relevant cases. Get copies of important judgments in the area and read them. Read the search results and also consider the more recent cases which have applied the key cases.
  3. Journals: Check the CASEBASE and First point search results obtained for relevant cases for journal articles which discuss those key cases. Then do a further search for relevant journal articles online in AGIST, Westlaw, HeinOnline. Do not cite journal articles in your essay unless they are in peer-reviewed journals such as the

Journal of Equity, Law Quarterly Review, Melbourne University Law Review etc.

  1. DO NOT refer to general student texts, nutshell books, solicitor firm websites or blogs in a research essay.
  2. Quotations and referencing: Quotations from texts, journals and cases should be kept to a minimum and must be properly referenced. Uncritical or improperly referenced use of text from books, journals or cases will be obvious to the marker and will detract from your work.
  3. Footnotes: Every time reference is made to a text or judgment, a footnote which contains the complete citation for a text or full citation to the authorised or best report for a case, or a reference back to a previous footnote containing that reference is required, together with a pinpoint reference to the relevant page or paragraph. You must follow the Australian Legal Guide to Citation (3rd ed) conventions for referencing in footnotes.

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