chapter
dictum in Entores. Thus, if the other party is somehow at fault and this fault can be seen as a cause of the plaintiffs expenditure loss, then an action might lie in the tort of negligence, although the economic loss rule will present a serious obstacle (cf Hedley By me, p 470). Alternatively, as we shall see, the plaintiff may be able to claim any benefit conferred on the other party via a quasi-contractual debt claim (cf Chapter 8). Another possibility, of course, is estoppel. Yet how can one be estopped from denying the existence of a contract? Does the existence of such an equitable principle confirm, yet again, that English law is based on promise rather than agreement? 2 Can a person be liable in damages for breach of a non-existent contract simply on the basis that such a person is estopped from denying the existence of a contract? If this kind of situation is possible, is it better to talk of equity awarding damages, or would such talk undermine the essence of the doctrine of estoppel? 3 Is Entores relevant for contractual negotiations carried out by fax? What about e-mail? 4 Why was the nephew in Beswick (p 249) not estopped from denying the existence of an obligation to pay Mrs Beswick?
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Blackpool and Fylde Aero Club Ltd v Blackpool Borough Council [1990] 1 WLR 1195 Court of Appeal

Bingham LJ: In this action the plaintiffs (‘the club’) sued the defendants (‘the council’) for damages for breach of contract and common law negligence. It was in issue between the parties whether there was any contract between them and whether the council owed the club any duty of care in tort. These issues of liability came before Judge Jolly sitting as a judge of the Queen’s Bench Division and he decided them both in favour of the club, all questions of quantum being deferred. The council appeal, contending that the judge was wrong on each point.