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Estoppel is a legal principle preventing a party from denying or contradicting its own previously stated position or claim. It is used in situations where the party’s assertion has been relied upon by another person, and retracting it would harm that person. In finance, it is often used in contract law or insurance matters.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Estoppel” is /ɪˈstɒpəl/.

Key Takeaways

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Definition: Estoppel is a legal principle that prevents someone from arguing something or asserting a right that contradicts what they’ve previously said or agreed to by law. It is often used in situations where one party has relied on something the other party has done or said.

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Types of Estoppel: There are various types of estoppel including promissory estoppel, equitable estoppel, collateral estoppel, and legal estoppel. Each type has its own distinct applications and requirements in order to be enforced.

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Application: The principle of estoppel is applied by courts to ensure fairness and justice. It is used to prevent a person from going back on their word when another has relied on them, often resulting in a legal or financial loss.



The business/finance term estoppel is vital because it prevents an individual or entity from asserting or denying a fact or claim that contravenes previous assertions or agreements, thereby ensuring consistency and fairness in dealings. It plays a crucial role in various financial and business contexts, such as contract law, insurance, and property transactions. For example, in contract law, it can ensure that once commitments or assurances have been made, the parties involved are prohibited from denying those agreed facts, thus safeguarding the contract’s integrity. In real estate, a lender might demand an estoppel certificate from a tenant to confirm the status and terms of the lease before approving a mortgage. Thus, estoppel serves as a tool of justice and balance, preventing individuals or businesses from going back on their words, reducing ambiguity, and enhancing the credibility of transactions.


Estoppel, a legal term used broadly across finance and business sectors, acts as a doctrine to prevent an individual or entity from asserting or denying a fact or a right that contradicts what they previously set forth as truth. The main purpose of estoppel is to promote fairness and justice by preventing parties from being unjustly benefited or harmed by their prior conduct or statements. It stands as a legal mechanism that ensures a person or entity cannot disclaim responsibility or take contradictory positions in the face of their previous declarations.In business relationships, the principle of estoppel often applies to contractual agreements or various financial transactions. For instance, if a lender informs a borrower that they do not have to make a payment on a loan until a certain date, the lender, through estoppel, can not suddenly demand payment at an earlier date. Another typical use of estoppel is in real estate, where sellers who have provided certain guarantees or statements about a property cannot later contradict themselves to disadvantage the buyers. Therefore, estoppel serves as a significant legal tool enabling equitable transactions by compelling involved parties to honor their previous statements or commitments.


1. Application in Insurance Claims: An insurer was previously aware of a fact but didn’t take any action and later can’t refuse to cover a claim based on that fact. For instance, suppose a policyholder has misrepresented their age while buying a life insurance policy. If the insurer, despite being aware of this inaccuracy, didn’t object initially, they can’t refuse to settle a claim on the ground of misrepresentation, following the policyholder’s death. This is called Estoppel by Acquiescence in the insurance context.2. Tenant-Landlord Agreement: A tenant has been consistently late in paying the rent for several months and the landlord has never imposed late-payment penalties as specified in the lease agreement. Then, the landlord attempts to collect late-payment penalties for all the past months. In this situation, the tenant could argue for the application of the estoppel principle, asserting that the landlord’s past behavior of not enforcing the late-payment clause led the tenant to believe that such fees would not be imposed.3. Employment Contracts: An employer promises an employee verbally that he will receive a bonus at the end of the year, over and above his written contract. Relying on this promise, the employee works additional hours but at year-end, the employer refuses to pay the bonus. In this case, the employee can take legal action against the employer using the concept of promissory estoppel – that the employer is prevented from denying the promise that the employee relied on to their detriment.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is an Estoppel in finance/business term?

Estoppel is a legal principle that prevents a person from arguing or stating something contrary to prior claims or actions, which others have relied on. This principle plays a critical role in business and finance, ensuring the parties involved adhere to their initial statements, contractual terms, or behaviors.

What are the different types of Estoppel?

The types of Estoppel include promissory Estoppel, collateral Estoppel, estoppel by deed, and equitable Estoppel. Each type depends on the specific circumstances and the way an individual or party is prevented from asserting certain claims or facts.

How does promissory Estoppel work in finance?

Promissory Estoppel refers to a situation where a party is stopped from denying a promise made to another party that has relied on that promise and consequently suffered a detriment. In finance, this often relates to agreements of payments, loans, contracts, and debts.

What is the significance of Estoppel in contractual agreements?

Estoppel is essential in maintaining fairness and consistency in contractual agreements. It essentially prevents a party from contradicting what they previously affirmed, thus ensuring trust in contractual relationships.

Can Estoppel affect a company’s financial statements?

Yes, in certain circumstances, Estoppel can have an effect on a company’s financial statements. For instance, if the principle of Estoppel is involved in a court ruling regarding a company’s financial dispute or contractual obligation, it may influence the reporting of liabilities, revenues, or assets on the statements.

How does Estoppel play a role in debt collection?

When a borrower makes a specific assertion about a debt, such as acknowledging its existence, they may be estopped from later denying it. This can help safeguard the interests of creditors in debt collection.

What is the relation between Estoppel and equity in business?

Estoppel is a doctrine of equity. This legal principle is based on the principles of fairness and justice, stopping an individual from behaving or asserting claims contrary to their previous actions or statements, which others have relied upon to their detriment.

Does Estoppel apply to verbal agreements in business transactions?

Yes, Estoppel can apply to verbal agreements. If an individual has made a promise verbally upon which another party has relied to their detriment, the principle of Promissory Estoppel may prevent the initial party from reneging on their verbal agreement.

Can Estoppel be used as a defense in a lawsuit?

Yes, depending on the circumstances, Estoppel can be used as a defense in a lawsuit. If a party is being accused of behaving contrary to previous claims or behaviors that the other party had relied upon, they might raise an Estoppel defense.

: Can a declaration of Estoppel be revoked?

Generally, once invoked, an Estoppel cannot be revoked. However, it may cease to be effective if the conditions that led to its invocation, such as a person’s reliance on a false claim, cease to exist.

Related Finance Terms

  • Collateral Estoppel
  • Promissory Estoppel
  • Equitable Estoppel
  • Estoppel by deed
  • Estoppel Certificate

Sources for More Information

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