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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > East Midlands > Private client > Agriculture and estates > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. Agriculture and estates
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Rising stars

Leading individuals: Hall of Fame

  1. 1

Rising stars

  1. 1

Acclaimed as ‘knowledgeable and personable’, Arnold Thomson is active in the full spectrum of agricultural property-related mandates. Among other commercial matters, clients turn to the team for advice on tenancy agreements, options and development work, partnership agreements and renewable energy concerns. Standout lawyer Matt Hawkins is ‘excellent with development work’ and also excels in inheritance tax planning, specifically in relation to Agricultural Property Relief and Business Property Relief. The group works closely with the tax, trusts, wills and probate team to provide agricultural clients with related advice.

Practice head(s):Matt Hawkins, Mike Thomson, Kate Austin, Nadiya Virani-Bland and Christine Simkins


'Kate Austin is excellent with land sales, as is Nadiya Viriani Bland with wills, tax and probate'.

'They are very accessible, professional and accurate'.

'They have a no nonsense practical approach with client care uppermost in their minds'.

'Kate Austin is a fantastic individual. She is patient, helpful and professional, always looking at the bigger picture'.

'They are swift to respond to queries and work well together as a team.'

'All members of staff have a caring attitude, and put their clients interests first.  Everyone is knowledgeable in their own field'.

'Nadiya Virani-Bland always makes time for enquiries, and never seems to be clock watching'.

Work highlights

  • Acted for a client in the sale of agricultural land for £3.65m  
  • Advising two landowners on a promotion agreement on land estimated at £19m.
  • Administering the estate of a deceased client worth approximately £6m.
  • Advising a client on lifetime planning.
  • Acted for  the client on the surrender of an Agricultural Holding Act and Farm Business Tenancies to the Crown.

Hewitsons impresses through its ‘attention to detail’ and ‘practical advice’. Its client base includes substantial landed estates, in addition to major producers of cereals, potatoes, herbs, vegetable and livestock. Particularly strong on the transaction front, the team is well-versed in acting for farmers and rural estate owners on the disposal of agricultural land for residential and commercial developments. Renewables are an additional area of expertise, with the workload increasingly consisting of matters related to solar farms and battery storage. The ‘bright, hard-working and reliableGareth Williams leads the department, which includes rising star Stephanie Dennis.

Practice head(s):Gareth Williams

Other key lawyers:Stephanie Dennis


'They are an efficient, knowledgeable team, which is able to advise and carry out work on a variety of topics'.

'Stephanie Dennis is very diligent, efficient and communicative. Her work is always carried out with complete professionalism and skill'.

'The whole team offers excellent customer service, being responsive and timely with its advice'.

'Gareth Williams has a practical and proactive approach to projects, which is often missing elsewhere'.

Key Clients

Compton Estates

Wistow Estate. Leicestershire

Bedford Estates

Merton College, Oxford

Homes England

Watford Estate, Northamptonshire

Northern Family, Bedfordshire

Arbury Estate, Warwickshire

Work highlights

  • Acting for a farming client in connection with the proposed transfer of a substantial farming Estate to a new trust, together with a refinance worth in excess of £10m.
  • Acting on an option for a sustainable urban extension in the north west of England.
  • Acting in connection with the succession to an AHA tenancy.
  • Advising on the restructuring of substantial internal tenancies.  
  • Sale of land for development to two developers with deferred payments secured by charges and overages.

Langleys Solicitors LLP's team distinguishes itself through ‘excellent knowledge and timeliness’, according to clients. Françoise Vandale heads up the practice, which advises its farming client base on the full range of agri-property and tenancy matters. Areas of specialist knowledge include agricultural tenancies, mineral and renewable-related instructions, pipelines and other easements, as well as residential and commercial development opportunities. Succession planning (namely agricultural and business reliefs) is also an area of focus for the team.

Practice head(s):Françoise Vandale

Other key lawyers:David Wood; Andrew Fearn

Work highlights

  • Acted for a landowner on its granting of an option and time limited deed of easement to run cables connected to an offshore windfarm.
  • Advised a charity landlord on Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 tenancy matters.
  • Acted for the purchaser on the acquisition of a 485 acre farm.
  • Acted for the seller on the £2m disposal of part of a farm by formal tender.
  • Advised a tenant client on its surrender of its AHA tenancy.

Roythornes Solicitors’ ‘quality team of specialists’ covers a wide range of transactions, including leasehold arrangements, developments, sustainable energy projects and agricultural land sales. Alconbury-based Julie Robinson serves as practice head, overseeing a team that also advises on Common Agricultural Policy, the implications of Brexit, joint ventures, farm tenancies and contracting arrangements. Emma Hill is an expert on poultry rearing agreements and poultry farm business tenancies (FBTs); she recently made partner together with Alice Lees. The team also includes the highly recommended Alan Plummer.

Practice head(s):Julie Robinson

Other key lawyers:Alan Plummer; Simeon Disley; Tom Foottit; Alice Lees; Emma Hill

Key Clients

The Woodland Trust

Work highlights

  • Acted for a client on the complex purchase of a significant farming interest involving in excess of 40 titles.
  • Assisted a client with the multimillion pound sale of agricultural land for development.
  • Advising the next generation of a Cambridgeshire farming family on succession to a traditional Agricultural Holdings Act tenancy.
  • Assisted a client with the complex sale of a farm, involving complicated corporate and taxation advice.
  • Specialist advice to the poultry sector.

At Wilkin Chapman LLP, practice head Catherine Harris handles all areas of agricultural law, including large scale transactions, farming subsidies and environmental schemes, agricultural tenancies, restructuring and succession planning. The wider team is also adept in development work, renewable energy, easements and farm diversification. Claire Hindmarsh recently arrived from Roythornes Solicitors, bolstering the group’s transactional expertise.

Practice head(s):Catherine Harris

Other key lawyers:Claire Hindmarsh; James Lloyd; Flora Bennett

Key Clients

Lindsay Marsh Drainage Board

Work highlights

  • Partition of land.
  • Sale of a farm and woodland.
  • Purchase of a half share in a farm.
  • Purchase of 333 acres of arable land and entitlements with bank funding.

BHW Solicitors’ department is jointly led by Kate Chorley, Eleanor Rattay and Ian Sanders. It is particularly well-regarded for transactions, acting on the acquisition and disposal of farms, agricultural land, woodland, country houses and equestrian properties. Additional areas of expertise include option and promotion agreements, renewable energy contracts and development agreements. The group's knowledge of secured lending transactions has been bolstered by the arrival of Kate Burlinson from Spearing Waite.

Practice head(s):Kate Chorley, Eleanor Rattay and Ian Sanders

Key Clients

Natwest Bank




Beesley – Garden Centre

Cadeby Tree Sales Limited

Venture Homes (Midlands) Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted on the sale of a client’s agricultural land to a significant residential developer.
  • Acting for NatWest Bank on funding the purchase of agricultural land worth £5 million.
  • Acting for a client on the refinancing of a substantial farmland in Appleby Magna, Leicestershire.
  • Advising a pension scheme on the purchase of agricultural and other land with bank funding.
  • Acting for Cadeby Tree Sales on the proposed letting of two Christmas tree farm sites in Leicestershire.

The ‘highly recommended’ team at Browne Jacobson LLP is ‘capable and available whenever needed’. A broad cross-section of services is provided by the group, with it offering specialist advice on insurance, renewable energy and regulatory matters, and also providing assistance with transactions and strategic land developments. Robert Wofinden and William Colacicchi jointly lead the group, which counts a number of public sector entities as key clients in its roster. Tim Edds is a new arrival, having previously served as in-house counsel at the Welsh Government.

Practice head(s):Robert Wofinden and William Colacicch

Other key lawyers:Georgina Euden


'A very personable service'.

'Robert Wofinden always makes himself available, providing great advice when needed'.


Key Clients

The National Trust

Environment Agency

Natural England

Homes and Communities Agency

Peak District National Park Authority

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust

Natural Resources Body for Wales

British Trust for Ornithology

Welsh Government

Northern Ireland Ombudsman

Marine Management Organisation

Work highlights

  • Advising Natural England on the applicability of the Environmental Impact Assessment (Agriculture) (England) No2 Regulations 2006 to a historic orchard and the effect of the application to turn part of it into a horse gallop.
  • Representing the Welsh Government at a hearing in front of the Independent Farmers and Foresters Appeal panel.
  • Acting for a client who entered into a sale contract in 2015 for the sale of a substantial area of agricultural land for residential development, and which it wished to bring to an end.
  • Advising Natural Resources Wales on an appeal of a consent granted under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1983.

Boutique firm Nigel Davis Solicitor offers ‘excellent, specialist agricultural advice in a considered, practical and accessible way’. The team covers the entire spectrum of related matters, including dispute resolution, estate planning, wills, trusts and probate, sport rights and divorce. Led by Matthew Elias and Liz Power, it also has ‘strong experience in property contracts for developments and agricultural land transactions’.

Practice head(s):Matthew Elias and Liz Power

Other key lawyers:Oliver Wilson; Vito Berzanskis; Jacqui Mann


'Liz Power is a well prepared and impressive associate with good knowledge of her specialist areas.'

'Vito Berzanskis provides a good analysis of the party's requirements and has the ability to provide clear instructions'

'Vito Berzanskis has proved to have excellent client focus, and consistently provides considered practical advise to a range of clients, addressing their objectives and concerns'.

Key Clients

Boden & Davies ltd

ISJ Farming

Whitehouse Construction Co Ltd

McClure Timber Supplies Ltd

Greenwood Forest Products UK Ltd

Work highlights

  • Complex farming partnership dispute involving re-balancing partnership accounts.
  • Complex claim for proprietary estoppel, agricultural tenancies and development issues involving 6 family members.
  • Administration of an Estate with assets including  a farm and a small let estate worth more than £5m and successfully ensuring that no IHT was payable.
  • Life time succession planning managing to reduce the tax on a £5m Estate.
  • Advised on £11m development deal involving promotion and option agreements.

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