Combe v Combe [1951] 2 KB 215

Key point

  • Promissory estoppel is not a cause of action


  • A husband (D) agreed to pay his wife $100 a year tax free but made no payments at all
  • Wife (C) sued for the arrears

Held (Court of Appeal)

  • Claim rejected; there was neither good consideration nor promissory estoppel available

Denning LJ

Promissory estoppel not cause of action

  • “Seeing that the principle never stands alone as giving a cause of action in itself, it can never do away with the necessity of consideration when that is an essential part of the cause of action. The doctrine of consideration is too firmly fixed to be overthrown by a side-wind.“: p. 220

No consideration

  • Forbearance by the wife not to apply to court for payments was not requested by the husband