Who? Wiljo Salen, 65, head of the contested wills, trusts and estates department at Cardiff and London firm Hugh James.
Why is he in the news? He won a £1.3m award for a woman who, for many years, had worked long hours for low pay on her parents’ farm following assurances that she would inherit the farm, only to find that her mother and father had reneged on their promise.
Matters came to a head in August 2012, when Eirian Davies’ parents prevented her from working on the farm and issued court proceedings to evict her from the farmhouse. She counterclaimed an interest in the farm, land and business under the doctrine of proprietary estoppel. Under this doctrine, the law can intervene where an individual has relied to their detriment on a promise that has not been honoured.
After several court hearings, including her parents’ failed application to the Court of Appeal, the High Court awarded Ms Davies £1.3m.
It is understood that the parents may appeal against the decision.
Thoughts on the case: ‘There has been a sharp increase recently in cases, particularly those involving farms, where proprietary estoppel has been invoked. There is never a happy outcome to these cases. Families are ripped apart.’
Dealing with the media: ‘My client has been bombarded by the press and by the public online. There is even talk of a film and a book. Because the parents are still talking about a possible appeal, we have advised her to keep silent.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘My school recommended law or economics. I had at least heard of law.’
Career high: ‘In the early days of my career, I successfully defended a wife in a murder trial. She was acquitted on the grounds that she killed her husband in self-defence.’
Career low: ‘Witnessing the collapse of funding for people of limited means.’