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Davies v Davies: The Cinderella Story of the Farmers’ Daughter

Davies v Davies (2016)

A farmer’s daughter who sued her parent’s for a share of the family farm has had her financial award reduced by the Court of Appeal in a recent proprietary estoppel case.

The daughter, Eirian Davies, spent 25 years working on her parents’ dairy farm in Wales. She presented a Cinderella story of unappreciated toll on the farm and being forced to stay at home “ with a muck fork” whilst her toe sisters went out socialising. She asserted that her reward for years of low pay was a promised share of the farm. At various stages she was given assurances that she was entitled to a share in the land and farming assets.

The relationship was fractious and the daughter left the farm on three separate occasions after falling out with her parents. However, each time a reconciliation was achieved via promises made to he.

Whilst the Court of Appeal accepted the daughter had a proprietary estoppel claim, they held that she had not always kept to her side of the agreement and therefore failed to show that she “positioned her whole life on the basis of her parents’ assurances”. An earlier judge had rejected the daughter’s claim that farm assets be transferred to her; instead the “ultimate reward (would) be a purely monetary one” and rejected her claim for £1.3 million and awarded her £500,000.