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Woman who sued parents over farm row sees £1.3 million payout cut to £500,000

Published 19/05/2016

Eirian Davies claimed she had worked long hours on her parents' dairy farm at Whitland, Carmarthenshire, for years without full payment
Eirian Davies claimed she had worked long hours on her parents' dairy farm at Whitland, Carmarthenshire, for years without full payment

A farmer's daughter who won £1.3 million in a bitter dispute with her elderly parents has had the award slashed to £500,000.

Tegwyn and Mary Davies, who are in their 70s, challenged a High Court ruling, made in February last year, over the payment to 47-year-old Eirian.

She claimed she had worked long hours on their dairy farm at Whitland, Carmarthenshire, for years without full payment since she was 17 in the expectation she would one day take over.

Her belief was reinforced by her mother telling her "not to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs".

Ms Davies first left the farm in 1989 when she was 21 after an argument with her father.

They reconciled and she stayed for 10 years before there was a clear five-year break when she did not work on the farm.

The relationship with her parents deteriorated after 2010 and, in August 2012, she left for the last time after a physical altercation.

The High Court was satisfied that Ms Davies worked around 20 years for her parents on and off on the basis of the promises made and that she had worked to her detriment.

To reflect this, it awarded her £1.3 million which was about a third of the net value of the farm and business.

Her parents denied they had treated her unfairly, as she had received substantial countervailing benefits, and argued she should be given a sum of £350,000 - for accommodation, a share in the farm and business and underpayment for the work done in the early years.

In the Court of Appeal on Thursday, Lord Justice Lewison said the High Court had applied "far too broad a brush" and not analysed the facts with sufficient rigour.

He said there were a series of different - and sometimes mutually incompatible - expectations, some of which were repudiated by Ms Davies herself and others which were superseded by later expectations.

The judge, sitting with Lord Justice Patten and Lord Justice Underhill, substituted a figure of £500,000.

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