Client Story

Family home saved in complex case after guidance from Agriculture and Estates Partner

15th December 2023

A farming partnership approached Agriculture and Estates Partner Derek Walsh following  a significant number of complaints that the seed the partnership had supplied to merchants had failed to germinate, leading to significant losses. The total value was in excess of £3m. The partnership assets included the farm house and surrounding farm land – this meant if the client was found liable then not only was its reputation at risk, but also the family home.

It soon became clear that there was a very complicated matrix involved in the process, with the seed being transferred through a number of parties before eventually being sold to the end user.

At each transaction, different sets of contractual terms and conditions applied but the parties sought to ignore those and simply pass the liability “up” to Derek’s client. Derek analysed the various contracts at each stage and established that there was a break in the chain in almost every case.

In any event, he argued that there were numerous matters that the client had no control over and could have affected the seeds’ germination, for example how the seed was stored at various points, the condition of the soil when it was sown, how it was treated thereafter and adverse growing conditions – all of which could have contributed to poor germination or development. It took several months to resolve but ultimately, none of the claims against the client were pursued by the parties to formal proceedings.

Ultimately, a trading company was established by Derek’s client to remove any future risk to the family home.

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