An Action on the Equities: Re-Characterizing Bhasin as Equitable Estoppel

Krish Maharaj

Abstract


In its 2014 decision of Bhasin v. Hrynew, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized that a duty of honest performance exists between contracting parties. Academics, practitioners, and courts across the nation have since contemplated the meaning and role of such a duty. This article looks to Australia’s doctrine of “equitable estoppel,” the equivalent of Canada’s “promissory estoppel,” to explain the outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision. It thereby posits that the duty of honest performance can be re-characterized and interpreted as equitable estoppel. In that manner, the article provides a perspective that clarifies the newly proclaimed duty, and potentially answers several of the outstanding questions regarding the Supreme Court’s conclusions in Bhasin.

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