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Is a Promise Enforceable Even if It Is Not a Contract?

In the hustle and bustle of business, sometimes promises are made that don’t necessarily rise to the level of an enforceable contract. Sometimes those broken promises can cost a business or entrepreneur plenty. Many businesses and entrepreneurs assume that if a promise or agreement isn’t in writing, it can’t be enforced. While that is true in many cases, sometimes those promises can be enforced.

For example, in certain cases, Michigan courts will employ the legal doctrine of “promissory estoppel” to enforce promises that do not rise to the level of a contract. The relief granted under this doctrine is usually limited in scope and applies only to someone who has reasonably and foreseeably relied on the promise to his or her detriment.

In order to recover under the doctrine of promissory estoppel, four requirements must be met:

  1. Someone must make a promise.
  2. Someone else must genuinely and justifiably rely on the promise.
  3. The actions that are taken in reliance on the promise must be reasonably foreseeable to the person who makes the promise.
  4. Injustice will occur if the promise isn’t enforced.

If the court determines that these four requirements have been met, it can require the person who made the promise to pay certain damages to the person who relied on the promise.

Convincing a court to enforce a non-contractual promise can be tricky business. Any Michigan business or entrepreneur who believes they may have a claim based on a promise should consult with a knowledgeable Michigan business litigation lawyer to review their rights.

Please feel free to contact Michigan business litigation lawyer Michael J. Hamblin for more information on how he can help you with your legal needs.

Client Reviews

I had a very difficult case. Mr. Hamblin treated me with respect and always kept me informed. He did a good job and I'd definitely recommend him.


I finally found an honest lawyer! He did not promise me the moon and navigated a complex contractual matter with excellence. The results were very satisfactory. Mr. Hamblin is an exceptional attorney.


Not only is Micheal a great attorney but he's also a great person who cares about you and helping with your problems. I would feel confident in recommending him to anyone who is in need of an attorney.


We retained Mike not long after he passed the bar and he's been our business attorney for almost 20 years. He's one of the best investments we've ever made.


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