"It was a long and difficult fight, but we got the right result in the end and the justice that Matthew and his family deserved.
I’ve been heading up the Will, Trust and Estates Disputes team at Irwin Mitchell for eight years, supporting individuals and families who are going through a difficult time in their lives. Whether they’ve lost a loved one or find themselves in conflict, my role is to work with them and support them through challenging times.
One of my clients, Matthew, contacted me to help him with his proprietary estoppel case and we’re still friends to this day. He’d been working on a family friend’s farm for thirty years, starting when he was just eight years old. Matthew was treated like a son rather than a worker, and this was his happy place, a place he called home. The farm was very important to him, and he’d shown that commitment through years of hard work and sacrifice.
He’d always been promised the land, but unfortunately it was never put in writing. So when the owner died, he was left with nothing, because there wasn’t a Will in place. Matthew was not only grieving the loss of someone he cared deeply about, but also the place he loved. He was devastated.
We had a long chat about what had happened and what success could look like for my client. It was clear that he had a case and I told him I’d support him throughout, which put his mind at ease and gave him reassurance. Matthew was very astute and had a heart of gold. Working with him was always such a pleasure because we got on so well. As a team we worked tirelessly to get the job done, which meant working early, working late, or working at weekends around Matthew’s busy work commitments. It meant so much to him and his brother as they’d worked on the farm for the majority of their lives. It was an unusual case because it involved long-term friends instead of family members but this just made the right outcome even more important.
Having such an open and honest relationship with Matthew really made such a difference. There was a two-way dialogue and he took my advice, but also helped us to present the best case possible. It was a challenging situation that went all the way to trial, but this allowed me to really get to know Matthew and his family.
When we finally won the case, I was overcome with relief, and pride. Relief for Matthew and pride for my team for what we’d achieved. This was more than just a case, I wanted to win this for my friend. Telling Matthew that he’d won was so emotional, because it was the end of a long journey which finally achieved the result he wanted. He was so happy; I had to tell him a few times before it finally sunk in. He said it was like a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
I love the work we do because we helped to make a positive difference to Matthew’s life, and support hundreds of other clients. Matthew’s now looking forward to carrying on with his life, knowing his future is secure for his family, his children and his grandchildren.
This was a complex case, but through expert legal advice and support we gave Matthew his ‘special place’ back. Knowing how happy he is back at the farm and the difference it’ll make to his future means everything to me – that’s the human touch that mattered."
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