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Farmer’s Daughter Wins Seven-Figure Stake in the Family Business

Promises that are relied upon to their detriment by those to whom they are made are enforceable by the courts. In one case that demonstrated this point, a woman who worked long hours for low pay on her family farm, after her father assured her that she would have her reward in time, was awarded a seven-figure stake in the business.

The woman, in her 50s, began working on the farm after leaving school and was instrumental in establishing its dairy herd. She milked the cows twice daily and said that she worked 60 to 70 hours a week for meagre wages. After she married, her husband also helped out on the farm. Following a row with her sister, however, she resigned her position and had not returned to the farm since.

In upholding her claim to a share of the farm – which was worth £2.5 million – a judge found that her father, and sometimes her mother, had on several occasions assured her that her toil would not be in vain. Their statements to her were not idle or casual remarks and she had relied upon them. By maintaining her commitment to the farm for over 30 years, she had kept her side of the bargain.

Although the judge rejected arguments that she had been promised the entirety of the farm, he found that she was entitled to a lump sum equivalent to the value of certain land and farm buildings. Those assets had recently been valued at £1,170,000. The judge expressed the hope that the sum required to meet the daughter’s award could be raised without selling the whole farm.