Down on the farm…Part three
And so the farming saga continues with our series of articles relating to disputes concerning agricultural property. This time a daughter, Lucy Hubberfield, recovers more than a million pounds from her parents after a lifetime of promises.
Part of Lucy’s claim was based on ‘proprietary estoppel’, a legal claim which requires three elements:
- A representation or assurance having been made
- An individual reasonably relying upon that assurance
- The individual then acting to their detriment on the strength of that assurance
Lucy was one of four children and her case was that she had devoted her life to the family farm because she had received promises from her father that she would eventually take over when he retired. Lucy started working at the farm full time when she left school in the early 1980s. She had a close relationship with her father and it was due to her working at the farm that they were able to restart dairy farming. The dairy farm quickly became the cornerstone of the farming business.
The court accepted that representations were made to Lucy by her parents that she would receive substantial benefit in the long run should she continue to work at the farm. As a result, Lucy continued to work at the farm for long hours and for pay that was lower than typical for that type of work. The judge determined that the representations made to Lucy were a primary consideration as to why she continued to work at the farm and so she was succeeded in winning the case.
People make promises daily, whether that is in a personal relationship, between family members or in regards to a business relationship. However, if promises are made, which a person then relies upon to their detriment, a claim can arise.
You can take steps to limit the risk of a claim by entering into legal agreements such as deeds of trust, cohabitation agreements or pre/post nuptial agreements. If you are in a situation that has gone beyond these preventative steps, then you need to take advice from legal experts.
If you were expecting to inherit in a will and have not done so, or at a much lesser extent than had been promised, then call GA Solicitors’ wills, inheritance and trusts disputes team by calling 01752 203500 or email anna.wonnacott@GAsolicitors.com.