Farm tenants and landlords gain easier way to solve disputes

Tenants and landlords of Agricultural Holdings Act (AHA) tenancies will be able to settle disputes more easily following agreement on changes to legislation this week.

The introduction of  “expert determination” will allow tenants and landlords to avoid the costly and lengthy process of arbitration and instead appoint an expert whose decision will be legally binding.

Parties will be able to use the process for all disputes other than notices to quit, which will still have to go to arbitration.

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Esther Woolford, partner at law firm Clarke Willmott, estimated that expert determination would take about three to six months to settle a dispute, compared with the six to 12 months of arbitration. Legal fees were also likely reduce from about £50,000-£100,000 for each party to about £5,000-£10,000.

However, a decision made through expert determination would be more difficult to appeal, she said.

George Dunn, chief executive of the Tenant Farmers Association, welcomed the changes, although he said it would not be suitable for all disputes.