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There has been several farming disputes before the courts in recent years and the latest decision in the case of Guest v Guest [2019] reminds us of the remedies available to successful Claimants in proprietary estoppel claims.

The claim was brought by Andrew Guest, who had worked at his parents’ farm for 32 years from the age of 16 years. His parents had promised him that he would inherit a substantial share of the farm. He had spent all his working life on the farm eventually living in a cottage at the farm with his wife and young children.

In 2015, following an argument with his father, Andrew was told to leave the farm and to move out of the cottage.

Andrew brought a proprietary estoppel claim against his parents to enforce the promises that they had made to him over the years. He claimed a share in the farming business, the farmland and property.

The Court heard that Andrew had relied on the assurances from his parents that he would acquire a share of the farm in working for a very low wage often less than the National Minimum wage, he had no pensions or savings and had no property. When he was told to leave the farm he and his family faced being left homeless and with no income.

The High Court held that it was unconscionable for the parents to renege on the promises they had repeatedly made to Andrew and ordered the parents to pay Andrew a sum equivalent to 50% of the value of the farming business and 40% of the farm.

The parents appealed the award but the Court of Appeal dismissed the Appeal and upheld the High Court’s decision.

For further information and advice on any farming or estate dispute, please contact Nazia Nawaz on 01484 558058 or by email nazia.nawaz@ramsdens.co.uk.