Chester 01244 405555

Grosvenor Court
Foregate Street Chester
Cheshire CH1 1HG
DX: 19990 Chester

Shrewsbury 01743 443 043

Lakeside House
Oxon Business Park
Shrewsbury SY3 5HJ
DX: 148563 Shrewsbury 14

Manchester 0844 800 8346

Pall Mall Court
61-67 King Street
Manchester M2 4PD

Send us a message
Our Offices

The Problem with Promises

24th March, 2015

In English law, the doctrine of estoppel has long protected individuals who rely on a promise made to them which is then broken with the result that they suffer a loss.

The recently decided case of Davies v Davies has seen the Court upholding the doctrine to award the claimant Eiran Davies £1.3m from her parents’ Carmarthenshire farm and serves as a salutary reminder of the potential dangers of making promises, particularly where money or assets are involved.

The facts of the case were that Miss Davies had worked on the family farm for many years for little or no payment. She had done so on the understanding that her parents would one day pass the farm to her. Miss Davies had two sisters, neither of whom had been closely involved with the farm business, having left to pursue their own careers. Miss Davies’ parents had originally intended to gift a 49% share of their business to their daughter and had prepared the paperwork but later decided to leave the bulk of the farm business to her in their Wills.

However, a family rift subsequently developed leading ultimately to Miss Davies leaving the farm in 2012 and suing her parents to establish an interest in the farm on grounds of estoppel. The Court ruled in favour of Miss Davies and following an unsuccessful appeal by the parents, Miss Davies was awarded a one third share of the farming business worth £1.3m.

The case illustrates the danger of making promises, particularly where a family business is involved, and practitioners involved in will writing or estate planning need to be alert to the fact that previously made promises could give rise to grounds for a future estoppel claim.

If you have made promises to family members which might become legally binding or if you have had promises made to you which you might one day wish to enforce then it is important that you seek specialist legal advice now to prevent problems arising in the future.

For further information on this or any other related enquiry please contact James Wallace on 01244 405588 or email [email protected].

You might also be interested in...

Why there is more to CSR than just boosting a company’s ego

6th July, 2018

When a business invests in its community it deserves praise – but it must go beyond that, writes Helen Watson, a trustee at Claire House and partner at Aaron and Partners Solicitors. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the link between a company and the community in which it operates. As a trustee on charity boards including Claire House... Read More »

Stuart Haynes reports on IAG Global – Wiesbaden 14th to 17th June 2018

4th July, 2018

Stuart Haynes, Corporate & Commercial Partner and IAG Global Board Member, reports on IAG Global – Wiesbaden held 14th to 17th June 2018 Stuart Haynes (IAG Global Board Member) Stuart Scott-Goldstone and Nick Clarke attended the recent IAG Global meeting in Wiesbaden which was held at the Grand Hotel Nassauer Hof from 14th – and 17th July 2018 The meeting... Read More »

DNA Test ordered in inheritance dispute where paternity questioned

6th June, 2018

Rhiannon Edwards, Solicitor in the Wills, Trusts and Tax department, discusses the recent judgement in the case of Nield-Moir v Freeman, where the High Court has ordered one of two daughters of Colin Birtles, who has died, to take a DNA test to prove paternity as part of an inheritance dispute In an unusual case, the High Court... Read More »

Contact Us