Proprietary Estoppel

Losing out on inheriting land or property because someone has broken their promise can lead to more than heartbreak and disappointment. If you have been disadvantaged after relying on a broken promise, you may be able to make a ‘proprietary estoppel’ claim.

At Tanners Solicitors our experienced contentious probate solicitors have substantial expertise in helping people make legal claims to enforce promises of interests in property.

Based in Cirencester, we draw clients from across the Cotswolds, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, as well as from across the UK, for our specialist expertise in this area.

Proprietary estoppel claims can be particularly of use within farming families and businesses where it is common for family members to devote considerable time and sacrifice other opportunities to work on the farm, often with the expectation that they will eventually inherit it.

The news often reports on such cases, such as case of ‘Cowshed Cinderella’ – the daughter who devoted 30 years to looking after the family’s dairy herd only for her parents to turn around and try to evict her.

Our proprietary estoppel solicitors know exactly how devastating it can be to work all your life and end up with nothing. We can provide practical advice about your prospects for making a claim and carry out all the legal work on your behalf.

To discuss your requirements with one of our expert proprietary estoppel lawyers in Cirencester, Cheltenham or London, contact us on 01285 659061 or fill in our contact form and a member of our team will be in touch shortly.

What is proprietary estoppel?

Proprietary estoppel is a type of legal claim you can make when:

  • You were promised a ‘proprietary interest’ – this could be freehold or leasehold ownership of a property, or an easement (such as a right of way over someone else’s land).
  • You relied on that promise, for example, you spent your adult life working on the family farm for little to no wages.
  • You did not or will not receive the promised proprietary interest, for example, because the deceased owner left you out of their Will or died without leaving a Will.

The courts will allow a claim where it would be ‘unjust or inequitable’ to allow the other party to go back on their promise.

You may be able to make a proprietary estoppel claim in specific circumstances, such as:

  • You worked on a farm on the understanding you would inherit part or all of it after a certain period of time or after the owner died.
  • You spent your own money renovating someone else’s home on the understanding that you would eventually receive it.
  • You gave up your career or opportunities to be someone’s carer on the understanding that you would receive some or all of their property after they died.

You must show that you relied on the promise and are worse off (financially or otherwise) for relying on the promise. For example, if you gave up other employment opportunities and/or worked on the family farm for a reduced wage because you were promised ownership once the owner died.

How our proprietary estoppel claims solicitors can help

The law on proprietary estoppel is complex and always hinges on the individual facts of each case. So, getting specialist legal advice is essential to give you the best possible chance of achieving the outcome you want.

We can handle the entirety of the claim on your behalf. We are sensitive to the fact that these cases often involve the recent passing of a family member. It is completely normal to experience a wide range of emotions as a result of the loss and the broken promise, from grief and sadness to anger and frustration. As well as providing expert legal advice, we are here to provide a listening ear should you have any worries.

Our friendly, practical inheritance dispute solicitors will provide open and honest advice about what making a proprietary estoppel claim entails, including straightforward advice about fees and tailored advice about your prospects for making a claim.

If we decide to move forward, we can capably handle the claim on your behalf, including gathering evidence, handling negotiations with other parties and representing you during court proceedings (if it is necessary to go to court).

Other ways we can help

As well as proprietary estoppel expertise, we have a wide range of experience handling contested Wills & probate and other property litigation matters.

For example, it is common for a proprietary estoppel claim to be paired with an inheritance claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

We can also assist with alternative claims that may be more appropriate in the circumstances, such as:

  • Other types of estoppel claim, such as promissory estoppel
  • Other types of Will and inheritance claims, such as undue influence claims
  • Other proprietary interest claims, such as constructive trust claims

Why choose Tanners for proprietary estoppel advice?

We have a wealth of expertise handing these types of claim. Our team includes several members of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), reflecting our training and knowledge in this area.

You will be assigned your own personal lawyer who will be responsible for progressing your case and keeping you updated with the support of our wider team. You will be able to contact your lawyer directly via phone or email, so if you have any questions or concerns during the process, you can quickly get in touch and expect a prompt response.

We work proactively, taking all possible steps to progress claims as quickly as possible, bearing costs in mind at all times. Our ultimate goal is to help you achieve a positive outcome as cost effectively as possible.

Funding your proprietary estoppel claim

We understand that costs will be a major concern for you going into your proprietary estoppel claim. Inheritance and Will disputes often have the potential to become very expensive, particularly if the proceedings reach court.

We are able to discuss a flexible approach to proprietary estoppel fees beyond private funding if appropriate, including looking to external sources of funding. We may also be able to discuss the possibility of taking your case on a no win, no fee basis under a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA).

Get in touch with us for further information about how we can help you fund your proprietary estoppel claim.

Do proprietary estoppel claims have to go to court?

Will and inheritance claims can quickly become very hostile, and this can be a major concern for claimants. However, with the right legal advice, it is possible to avoid lengthy, expensive and stressful court proceedings.

Methods of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), such as mediation, can be beneficial in helping people work out contested Will and probate claims without the potential hostilities of court. Mediation and other forms of ADR can also help keep costs manageable.

Speak to our proprietary estoppel solicitors in Cirencester today

To discuss your requirements with one of our expert proprietary estoppel lawyers in Cirencester, Cheltenham or London, contact us on 01285 659061 or fill in our contact form and a member of our team will be in touch shortly.