The High Court held that, under proprietary estoppel, a son (G) was entitled, on his mother's (Mrs T's) death, to the entire family farm and her farm partnership share.
From leaving school in 1979, G worked on his parents' farms, seven days a week, up to 18 hours a day, with few holidays, for a maximum of £70 a week plus board and lodging. From 1992, G and his parents each held a one-third share under a farm partnership agreement. Following the father's death, his share was attributed to Mrs T. From 2014, family relations deteriorated. G stopped working on the farm due to illness and being effectively excluded by Mrs T and his sister. Mrs T wanted to distribute her partnership share elsewhere.
The High Court held that:
The court suggested that Mrs T should have a life interest in her partnership share and a right to reside for life in her bungalow (which formed an integral part of the farm).
This case highlights the importance of succession planning. The parents faced the common quandary of wanting to treat their children equally, yet passing the farm, unbroken, to one child.
It also underlines the importance of professionals taking careful file notes of family meetings. G's case was supported strongly by the contemporaneous documentary evidence.