ESTOPPEL. The preclusion of a person from asserting a fact, by previous conduct in consistent therewith, on his own part or the part of those under whom he claims, or by an adjudication upon his rights which he can not be allowed to call in question.
A preclusion, in law, which prevents a man from alleging or denying a fact, in conse quence of his own previous act, allegation, or denial of a contrary tenor. Steph. Pl. 239.
A plea which neither admits nor denies the facts alleged by the plaintiff, but denies his right to allege them. Gould, PL c. 2, § 39.
A special plea in bar, which happens where a man has done some act or executed some deed which precludes him from averring any thing to the contrary. 3 Bla. Corn. 308.
Where a fact has been admitted or asserted for the purpose of influencing the conduct or deriving a benefit from another so that it cannot he denied without a breach of good faith, the law enforces the rule of good morals as a rule of policy, and pre cludes the party from repudiating his representa tions or denying the truth of his admissions ; Doug lass v. Scott, 5 Ohio 199; Rawle, Coy. 407.
This doctrine of law gives rise to a kind of plead ing that is neither by way of traverse, nor confes sion and avoidance, viz.: a pleading that, waiving any question of fact, relies merely on the estoppel, and, after stating the previous act, allegation, or denial of the opposite party, prays judgment if he shall be received or admitted to aver contrary to what he before did or said. This pleading is called a pleading by way of estoppel. Steph. Pl. 240 ; Blackington v. Johnson, 126 Mass. 21; Andrews v. Ins. Co., 18 Hun (N. Y.) 163; Cross v. Levy, 57 Miss. 634; Byrne v. Bank, 31 La. Ann. 81; Stephenson v. Walker, 8 Baxt. (Tenn.) 289 ; Hull v. Johnston, 90 ID. 604; Walker v. Baxter, 6 Wash. 244, 33 Pac. 426.
Formerly the questions regarding estoppel arose almost entirely in relation to transfers of real prop erty, and the rules in regard to one kind of estoppel were quite fully elaborated. In more modern time the principle has come to be applied to all cases where one by words or conduct wilfully causes an other to believe in the existence of a certain state of things, and induces him to act on that belief or to alter his own previous position ; 2 Exch. 653 ;
Den v. Baldwin, 21 N. J. L. 403 ; Titus v. Morse, 40 Me. 348, 63 Am. Dec. 665. See, as to the reason and propriety of the doctrine, Co. Litt. 852 a; Pelletreau v. Jackson, U Wend. (N. Y.) 117; Jones v. Sasser, 18 N. C. 464; Blake v. Tucker, 12 Vt. 44.
"The correct view of estoppel is that taken in a recent work (Bigelow, Est.). 'Certain admissions,' it is there said, 'are indisputable, and estoppel is the agency of the law by which evidence to controvert their truth is excluded.' In other words, when an act is done, or a statement made by a party the truth or efficacy of which it would be a fraud on his part to controvert or impair, the character of an estoppel will be given to what would otherwise be a mere matter of evidence. The law of estoppel, therefore, is a branch of the law of evidence, it has become a part of the jurisdiction 'of chancery, sim ply because in equity alone, or rather by equitable construction alone, has that full effect been given to this species of evidence which is necessary to the due administration of justice." Bisph. Eq. § 280. See Tiedm. Eq. Jur. 106.
"Estoppel is only a rule of evidence and you can not found an action upon estoppel. Estoppel is only important as being one step in the progress towards relief on the hypothesis that the defendant is es topped from denying the truth of something he has said." (1891) 3 Ch. 82, 105, per Bowen, L. J. The doctrine of estoppel was applied to a case of the transfer of shares upon a forged order; L. R. 3 Q. B. 584.
Where there is an attempt to apply the doctrine of estoppel, one essential in such a case is that the party in whose favor it is invoked must himself act in good faith; Vaughn v. Hixon, 50 Kan. 773, 32 Pac. 358; and it is of the essence of estoppels that they must be mutual and certain to every intent ; Sutton v. Dameron, 100 Mo. 141, 13 S. W. 497 ; Sullivan v. R. Co., 128 Ala. 97, 30 South. 528; and they cannot rest on argument or inference ; id. They arise out of matters of fact, not of law ; Snyder v. Studebaker, 19 Ind. 462, 81 Am. Dec. 415.
Estoppels are of three kinds. 1. By deed. 2. By matter of record. 3. By matter in pais, which last are also termed equitable es toppels.