A court action involving 58 goats finally came to an end yesterday after 14 years and £1 million in legal fees.
The dispute began when William and Maureen Browning bought in extra animals to expand their herd which was then found to have become infected with an incurable disease.
When the vendor sued the Brownings for £8,778 in 1991 for alleged non-payment of part of the goat contract, the couple counter-claimed for misrepresentation on the ground that some of the goats were infected with Johne's disease.
Because of the size of the counter-claim - it began as £120,000 and rose as high as £2 million over the Brownings' fears of the damage to their business caused by the disease - it became the most important aspect of the litigation.
By 1996, the original case, which had begun at Staines County Court, was eventually settled at Kingston County Court with the Brownings paying £5,000 to the original vendors and seeing their counter-claim dismissed after delays in amassing evidence.
The couple were ordered to pay £30,155 costs.
A year later the Brownings tried to sue the widow of the goat vendor, who had since died, but this action was finally lost after a Court of Appeal ruling in January 1998.
The Brownings, who produce hand-made goats' milk products at their Lower Basing Farm in Cowden, Kent, then had to find a further £13,669 in costs.
They launched an action against their solicitors in the original action, Messrs Brachers, claiming negligence which lost them the chance of pursuing their counter action.
At the High Court in 2003, Brachers admitted negligence but said the counter-claim had no real chance of success and therefore the value of Mr and Mrs Browning's lost chance was nil or negligible.
Mr Justice Jack found that at no time did Brachers warn the Brownings that their counter-claim was likely to fail or even that it was weak and awarded the couple £76,873 against the solicitors.
The Brownings were unhappy with the amount of damages and took the case back to the Court of Appeal where today three judges upped their award to a total of £224,970.
But the Vice Chancellor, Sir Andrew Morritt, who gave the appeal judges' ruling today, ordered Brachers to pay just 80 per cent of the Brownings' legal fees because of what he called their "grossly exaggerated" claim for damages.
Lawyers involved in the case said the legal costs on both sides had reached a total of around £500,000 each.