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The repercussions of a family Christmas

View profile for Victoria Gratton
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Clive Shaw took his parents to court after a falling out at Christmas in 2016.

As a result of this falling out, Clive was removed from his parents’ will and was no longer to inherit the farm owned by his parents.

Clive argued that he had relied upon his parents’ promise to inherit the family farm. It was his claim that he had sacrificed his adult life to working on the farm, as his parents had assured him that he would inherit and take over the running of the business. Clive said that he had worked hard on the farm for very little money over the years on the understanding that it would one day be his.

The court found that Clive had not, in fact, centred his life around the farm, but he had lived his life the way he had wanted. He started up an American Show truck business from the land as his interests lay in driving and engineering – not farming.

Clive’s parents had made the promise of him inheriting the family farm on the condition that he did so to run as a business with him working as a farmer. The farm was not for him to inherit as an asset, but as a family business.

The judge held that any promise made by Clive’s parents was conditional and Clive failed to meet the conditions.

Some people may feel that Clive has been treated unfairly and that the judge made the wrong decision. Have you dedicated many years of hard work to the family business? Have you worked all your life in the family business relying on a promise that one day it would be yours? Do you believe that you are inheriting the family business or that you should have inherited it? If so, Birkett Long may be able to help. We have a dedicated team that specialises in inheritance disputes and contested probate.

If you would like to discuss a potential inheritance dispute, we offer a free 15 minute initial telephone consultation. I am based at our Colchester office and can be contacted on 01206 217628 or alternatively you can email me at