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Widow’s Intransigence Puts Her £2 Million Farm in Jeopardy

There are times when you should fight. Equally, there are times when fighting is damaging. A good solicitor should advise their client when to fight and when not to fight. In the case below, an elderly widow fought apparently pointlessly to her detriment. She is now in danger of losing her home in order to pay a debt (which has now doubled in value) due to interest and legal costs.

This is a fight that should never have been fought.

In almost any dispute, legal advice is vital so that you know when to dig your heels in and when to give ground. In one example of unwise intransigence, a 91-year-old widow’s refusal to pay a £68,000 debt that she owed to her son left her at risk of eviction from her £2 million home.

A judge accepted that the son had been promised a barn and an acre of farmland by his father before the latter’s death. The son had acted to his detriment in reliance on his father’s word, but the whole of the farm passed to the father's widow after his death. She had refused to honour her deceased husband’s promise and was ordered to pay her son £68,000 in compensation for his loss.

The debt was secured by way of a charging order against the farm. In rejecting the widow’s challenge to that order, the Court of Appeal noted that she had taken no steps to raise the necessary funds to pay the debt to her son. Combined with interest and legal costs bills, that debt had swelled to about £150,000.

The son had been attempting to enforce his security for more than two years and his mother had made a number of unsuccessful attempts to resist that outcome. In the circumstances, the Court gave her a month to pay the debt in full. If she failed to comply, stays on an eviction notice and an order for the sale of the farm would be lifted.

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MLA 2017 18 Shortlisted 2