Cornwall LivingIssue #72
Securing your future
Speaking with Stephens Scown and its recent client Lucy Habberfield, we learn how farm inheritance law could help more people.
A farmer who was awarded over £1 million in compensation following a High Court case over the inheritance of her family farm wants more farmers to know about the area of law that helped her. Lucy Habberfield, who was advised by the inheritance and trust disputes team at Stephens Scown LLP, received the substantial award in recognition of the work that she had carried out at the family farm over a period of 30 years.
“The area of law involved is called Proprietary Estoppel. It is a developing area, with a series of high profile cases, particularly relating to farms, over recent years.”
Davina Haydon, partner in the inheritance and trust disputes team at Stephens Scown in St Austell explains: “My colleague Phil Gregory led a dedicated team who worked on this case. The area of law involved is called Proprietary Estoppel. It is a developing area, with a series of high profile cases, particularly relating to farms, over recent years.”
It’s been a difficult few years for Lucy Habberfield, who tells us: “I worked hard on the farm for so long and following my father’s drop in health, my siblings, with the help of my mother, made it impossible to stay on the farm. To start with, I didn’t know I could do anything about the situation – I think a lot of people in farming are unaware of this law and how it could help them. Once I realised there was something I could do, I knew I had to try for my children’s sake, to give them a secure future.” Davina Haydon explains: “In Lucy’s case she had worked for 30 years, seven days a week for low wages on the family farm on the understanding that she would one day take it over from her father. The judge found that she had kept her side of the bargain. To compensate her for the detriment that she’d suffered over the years, she was awarded over £1 million – a sum equivalent to the value of the dairy part of the family farm, which she ran with her partner.”
As well as being a partner in the Stephens Scown inheritance and trust disputes team, Davina is a member of the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists, the UK’s leading body for lawyers specialising in wills, inheritance and probate. The team at Stephens Scown has been awarded top tier ranking by independent guides to the legal profession Chambers UK and Legal 500.
"The area of law involved is called Proprietary Estoppel. It is a developing area, with a series of high profile cases, particularly relating to farms, over recent years.”