Carter Jonas
Carter Jonas

When mediation can help prevent family conflict

Succession planning and partnership changes can all too easily turn into divisive – and expensive - conflict.

As farming families gather for Christmas and probably discuss plans it’s possible for different ideas to lead to debate about the future, particularly as children who have moved away may still see it as their “right” to benefit from the capital value of the enterprise in which they want no future active part.

Court cases are not unheard of in these circumstances but can be avoided. One way is to seek mediation through a trained and independent third party, something which Carter Jonas is increasingly able to offer.

With expert rural partners trained in mediation it is fairly straightforward to bring in an experienced negotiator who is not personally connected to the various parties and who can assess, sift facts, and suggest solutions based purely on professional expertise.

One of the problems when two generations or two related individuals work alongside each other

before the younger takes complete control is that it’s easy for each to believe they have an entitlement to assets introduced by the other. So a record of all assets introduced to the business and how they are incorporated into activities is essential, as with any partnership.

Perhaps hardest of all for the older generation is letting go, moving out of the main farmhouse to somewhere else on the farm or further away. However, if the younger generation has been involved from an early age and well trained while growing into a role within the farm, passing over the reins should be less stressful. It also helps if discussions over turkey and sprouts are followed up with a proper meeting that’s minuted so as to record the decisions and agreements made.

It’s all down to trust or, failing that, good professional guidance that hopefully avoids expensive in-fighting.

Steven McLaughlin is a qualified mediator able to provide an independent eye along with his colleague Mark Russell based in the Carter Jonas Cambridge office.

steven carter jonas

Steven McLaughlinFRICS FAAV


Steven is a Partner based in our Rural Team in Oxford and is head of Rural Valuation for the firm. He advises private and institutional clients on a diverse range of rural asset valuations for all pur...

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01865 404446

Mark Russell


Mark is a rural partner responsible for agency and professional work in East Anglia. Since qualifying in 1998 Mark has undertaken asset management of institutional rural property, advised landowners,...

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01223 346628