Waltons Stores (Interstate) Ltd v Maher

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Waltons Stores (Interstate) Ltd v Maher
Wrecking ball.jpg
Court High Court of Australia
Citation(s) (1988) 164 CLR 387, 62 ALJ 110
Transcript(s) http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/1988/7.html
Case opinions
Mason CJ and Wilson J
Estoppel, consideration, pre-contractual negotiations

Waltons Stores (Interstate) Ltd v Maher (1988) 164 CLR 387, 62 ALJ 110, is a leading case in Australian contract law. The Australian High Court decided that estoppel, in certain circumstances could be a cause of action.


Maher owned some property with buildings on it in Nowra. He was negotiating with a department store company called Waltons Stores for a lease of the land. They wanted an existing building to be demolished and a new one erected.

In reliance on representations made before a contract was completed, Maher demolished the building and started to erect a new one. But the contract never came to completion because Waltons Stores did not sign the lease. Waltons told their solicitors to slow the deal while they did further investigations as to whether the transaction would be good business, but allowed Maher to remain under the impression that the deal would be completed.


The High Court held that to avoid detriment through Waltons' unconscionable behaviour, Waltons was estopped from denying the contract. But not only the reliance interest was protected. The award given protected the expectation interest (as if the contract had been concluded).

Mason CJ and Wilson J, ‘the creation or encouragement by the party estopped in the other party of an assumption that a contract will come into existence or a promise will be performed and that the other party relied on that assumption to his detriment to the knowledge of the first party.’[1]

This entails that if the plaintiff acts to their own detriment, in reliance on the allusions of the unconscionable party, equity law has the capability to intervene.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Waltons Stores (Interstate) Ltd v Maher (1988) 164 CLR 387, 34

External links[edit]