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Parents lose one-third of farm because of promise made

In English law, the doctrine of estoppel has long protected individuals who rely on a promise made to them which is then broken with the result that they suffer a loss.

The recently decided case of Davies v Davies has seen the Court of Appeal uphold the doctrine and award the claimant, Eiran Davies, £1.3m from her parents’ Carmarthenshire farm. The case serves as a valuable reminder of the possible dangers of making promises, particularly where money or assets are involved.

The facts of the case were that Miss Davies had worked on the family farm for many years for little or no payment. She had done so on the understanding that her parents would one day pass the farm to her. However, following a family quarrel, Miss Davies left the farm in 2012 and sued her parents to establish an interest in the farm on grounds of estoppel. The Court ruled in favour of Miss Davies and following an unsuccessful appeal by the parents, Miss Davies was awarded a one third share of the farming business worth £1.3m.

Litigation Solicitor, Jemma Jones, comments:

“The case illustrates the danger of making promises, particularly where a family business is involved.”

“If you have made promises to family members which might become legally binding or if you have had promises made to you which you might one day wish to enforce then it is important that you seek specialist legal advice now to prevent problems arising in the future.  If you have any concerns regarding the complex area please contact me or via telephone 01743 248148 at our Shrewsbury office”


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