A humorous headline from the BBC as often is the case in our area of law. My colleague Nazia Nawaz, a senior associate in our Manchester office analyses the case behind the headline:

"While the decision in the case of Moore v Moore is awaited, another farming dispute has hit the headlines: Mr Clive Shaw brought a proprietary estoppel claim against his parents on discovering that they have written him out of their wills. 

Mr Shaw claims that he worked on his parents' farm from a very young age without pursuing any other career opportunities based on a promise that he would inherit the £1m farm. The parents’ wills do not provide for him at all and leave the bulk of the estate to his sister, who together with Mr Shaw’s mother claims that Mr Shaw ‘hated the cows’ on the farm and that he was incapable of managing the business. Mr Shaw argues that the dispute has arisen due to his mother’s dislike of his girlfriend and her belief that she is a ‘gold digger’. 

We are seeing increasing numbers of similar claims in farming disputes where the parties fail to formalise agreements in writing at the time the promise is made. While such cases were historically brought on the death of the person that made the promise, this case is one of many where the claim has been brought in the lifetime of both parties to enforce the promise as soon as there is an indication that the promise has not been honoured in a will. This case also highlights the importance and need for early action where families wish to protect their family wealth. It goes to show why it is worth instructing a solicitor when it comes to wills - they are able not only to advise and represent parties in such disputes but also on strategies to minimise the risk of disputes arising in the first place.”

You can find Nazia's further commentary on the case of Moore v Moore here: https://imprivateclient.passle.net/post/102f3q2/promise-of-land-is-it-really-enforceable