Woman awarded over £1 million in damages after inheritance dispute

A woman has been awarded over £1 million in damages following a High Court case about the inheritance of a family farm.

Lucy Habberfield, from Somerset, received the sum in recognition of the work that she had carried out at the family farm over a period of 30 years.

Ms Habberfield said she worked for low wages and with few holidays. She was joined on the farm by her partner Stuart Parker in 2007 on a full-time basis and together they brought up four children while running the business.

Ms Habberfield claimed her father assured her that she would take over the farm when he retired.

When he died, however, her father’s promises and assurances were not carried out.

Ms Habberfield took the case to court for compensation for broken promises despite her mother’s opposition to the claim.

Ms Habberfield said, “I worked hard on the farm for so long and following my fathers 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 not aware 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 and to give them a secure future.”

Phil Gregory who advised on the case said, “For 30 years Lucy worked seven days a week for low wages on the family farm on the understanding that she would one day take over the farm from her father.

“After hearing evidence from more than 20 witnesses, many of whom were local farmers and farm workers, the judge ruled in favour of Lucy. He found that she had kept her side of the bargain. To compensate her for the detriment that she had suffered over the years she was awarded a sum equivalent to the value of the Woodrow farmland and farm buildings.”