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News & Press: Court Cases

Irrevocable License

Tuesday, April 16, 2019  
Posted by: Heather Starkey
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Shoen v. Zacarias
Cal.App. 2nd Dist. (B284374) 4/4/19

When a landowner grants someone permission to use her land, she generally retains the right to revoke that license at any time. The landowner may nevertheless be estopped from revoking that license -- and the license will accordingly become irrevocable for so long a time as the nature of it calls for -- if the person using the land has expended money or its equivalent in labor improving the land in the execution of the license. Critically, however, the expenditure of money or labor can make a license irrevocable only if that expenditure is "substantial," "considerable" or "great." Here, the appellate court concluded that the trial court's grant of an irrevocable license was an abuse of discretion because the trial court construed the "substantial expenditure" requirement too permissively and held that defendant's modest costs of upkeep did not constitute "substantial" expenditures warranting an irrevocable license.


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