Equitable estoppel is a defensive doctrine preventing one party from taking unfair advantage of another when, through false language or conduct, the person to be estopped has induced another person to act in a certain way, which resulted in the other person being injured in some way. This doctrine is founded on principles of fraud. It prevents one party from taking a different position at trial than s/he did at an earlier time if the other party would be harmed by the change. Generally, the elements that need to be proved are:
- There must be a representation or concealment of material facts.
- These facts must be known at the time of the representation to the party being estopped.
- The party claiming the benefit of the estoppel must not know the truth concerning these facts at the time of the representation.
- The representation must be made with the intention or the expectation that it will be acted upon.
- The representation must be relied upon and acted upon.
- The party acting upon the representation must do so to his or her detriment.
Equitable estoppel is also termed as estoppel by conduct or estoppel in pais.