5 September 1997

Succession rule anomaly

A LEGAL loophole could mean farmers are unfairly qualifying for succession rights under traditional tenancies, says Birketts solicitor Angela Sydenham.

Succession, she says, should only apply if there is a "real need". And this is not so if the applicant can make a living from other land.

Certain types of occupation of other land are disregarded, however. If it is precarious, short-term or non-beneficial, for example.

"But last minute changes to the 1995 legislation mean FBTs of less than five years are also disregarded. It was not thoroughly thought through," claims Mrs Sydenham.

"An applicant can now easily arrange his affairs to take advantage of this. If he owns land, he could convey it to trustees to hold for, say, his children – and then take back a yearly tenancy.

"This will not stop him qualifying for succession on another farm. And at the same time, not being of a fixed term, the new arrangement will continue indefinitely, rolling on from year to year."n