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Father’s promises to entitle his son to £10 Million Farm.

31st October 2016 by Rob Kelly

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Promises that are freely made and relied upon can have the force of a contract and are capable of being enforced in court.  That is what happened in Moore v Moore and anor [2016] EWHC 2202 (Ch) in which a which a Deputy High Court judge held that a son was assured repeatedly by his father that he would inherit the £10 million family farm and worked long hours for low pay in the belief that the promises would be honoured.

The judge found that the father had on several occasions told his son that the farm would one day be his.  In reliance on those representations, the son had thrown himself into working on the farm from a young age.  He took no expensive holidays, lived a frugal life with his family in a bungalow on the farm and earned less than £300 a week for many years.

While suffering with the effects of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, the father changed his will and disinherited his son of the farm but the High Court found that the son had truly believed, and had been encouraged by his father to believe, that he would inherit the farm.  In reliance on his father’s promises, the son had acted to his detriment by devoting his entire working life to the farm for meagre financial rewards.

The court ordered that the farming partnership between the father and son be dissolved because of the father’s ill health.  The father’s share of the farm and the farming business were transferred to the son but subject to his parents’ entitlement to live in the farmhouse, and to draw an income from the business, for as long as they need.  The court noted that that outcome would enable the land to be farmed by the next generation of the family as the father had always intended.

If you would like further information please contact Rob Kelly.

This article provides information and comments on legal issues and developments of interest.  The contents of this article do not constitute legal advice, is not a comprehensive treatment of the subject matter covered, and should not be relied on as such.  Legal advice should be sought about your specific circumstances before taking any action with respect to the matters discussed.

Rob Kelly

Senior Associate — Dispute Resolution

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Rob is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (September 2009).  Rob also holds an LLB (Hons) degree in law.  He successfully completed training as a mediator under the ADR Chambers / Harvard Law Project Scheme and was one of the first mediators to have been appointed an IMI Certified Mediation Advocate in the UK with a commercial practice.

Rob specialises in dispute resolution through litigation, arbitration and mediation, with particular emphasis on contractual disputes, claims involving allegations of professional negligence (which he has prosecuted on behalf of commercial and private clients and defended on behalf of insurers, re-insurers and Lloyd’s syndicates). He is regularly instructed in connection with substantial disputes involving contractual, professional negligence, contentious probate issues.  Rob also deals with contentious property and landlord and tenant issues.

Rob’s style is a mix of listening, asking (tough) questions, diplomacy and reality testing. He’s interested, flexible, and pragmatic. He offers a common sense, realistic approach to assist his clients in searching for solutions to their disputes and brings straight talking and integrity to his work.

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