Solicitor struck off for “preying on vulnerable clients”
A solicitor has been struck off for writing wills that left him and his family sizeable legacies. The Solicitors Disciplinary…More
An 82-year-old grandmother has been forced to leave her £2.5m farm, following a bitter legal battle with her own daughter.
An Appeal Court judge ruled Jane Habberfield had fallen victim to a situation of “her own making” as he upheld a High Court ruling in favour of Lucy Habberfield (51), who had been promised that the family dairy farm would be bequeathed to her in return for the decades of work she had put into it.
Lucy’s lawyers said their client had regularly worked 80-hour weeks, often in challenging conditions, even while she was pregnant.
The High Court had ordered Lucy’s mother to pay her daughter £1.1m as compensation for her years of commitment to the farm and its herd.
Jane Habberfield appealed against that ruling, but last week the Court of Appeal dismissed her case.
According to a report in The Times, Lord Justice Lewison said Jane could be “turned out of her home” as a result of losing the “ruinously expensive litigation”.
The relationship between mother and daughter had collapsed over time and the court also heard Lucy had fallen out with her sister, Sarah Habberfield.
The newspaper reported that matters had escalated in 2013, when the sisters had come to blows in a cowshed at the 220-acre Woodrow Farm, near Yeovil, Somerset. After the fracas, Lucy had left the property and had brought a legal claim to secure what she had been promised.
Challenging her daughter’s payout, Jane Habberfield said Lucy had received too much of the family wealth and asked for it to be reduced to be fair to her three other children.
She also requested that she should be allowed to pay Lucy out of her estate after her death if the court decided the £1.1m order had to stand. Otherwise, she said, she would be forced to sell the farm and lose her home and livelihood.
Lucy Habberfield commented afterwards: “I’m so sad that our case had to go so far and my advice for other farming families is to get together around the table and talk about what you want to happen to your farms.
“No one likes talking about what will happen after they die, but we are only here once and having a proper, open conversation about it so everyone knows where they stand could save so much misunderstanding and heartache later on.”