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  1. Agriculture and estates
  2. Leading individuals

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Boodle Hatfield LLP fields an experienced, eight-partner team that is β€˜at the top of its game’. Led by the β€˜very user-friendly’ Saskia Arthur, the practice advises some of the largest landed estates in the country – including Grosvenor Estates, Bedford Estates and Radnor/Folkestone Estate – on the full range of issues, from complex, high-value transactions to day-to-day estate management. Other key figures include Sue Laing and Natasha Hassall, who are β€˜both extremely good’, and the β€˜outstanding’ Fiona Graham, who heads the Oxford office.

Clients praise Farrer & Co’s β€˜team of loyal partners’ for its β€˜depth of experience’ and β€˜outstanding advice based on years of focus and commitment to this sector’; its work for clients such as the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall and the Church Commissioners of England is a testament to this longstanding track record. Department head Henry Goulding, James Maxwell (who is β€˜an excellent communicator’), Simon Pring (β€˜an outstanding and creative thinker’), and the β€˜highly effective’ Paul Krafft are all singled out. Peter Downy has retired.

β€˜Best in the business’ according to some, Forsters LLP is praised for its β€˜extremely sophisticated client skills, quality of service’ and for its β€˜excellent strength-in-depth’. Key figures include head of landed estates Penny Elliott, the β€˜innovative’ Andrew Lane, and Rupert Mead, who provides β€˜good, clear, practical advice.’ Catherine Hill and David Robinson are also highly rated. The firm provides a full service to institutional and private landowners.

Withers LLP has a β€˜hugely competent team of rural property lawyers’. The firm acts mainly for landowning families and individuals, as opposed to institutional clients, with eight partners providing the full remit of legal services. The team is co-led by Bertie Hoskyns-Abrahall (who is β€˜fantastic with clients’) and the β€˜brilliant and tireless’ Matthew Woods, and includes Christopher Groves, who is noted for his β€˜sensible, commercial approach and vision’, and Rebecca Spencer, who is β€˜an outstanding associate’. Clients include Bleinham Palace.

Bircham Dyson Bell’s clients rate the depth of its team as well as the β€˜quality of customer care, which goes above and beyond at all times’. Christopher Findley and Henry Cecil both β€˜combine great experience with the ability to listen’. The firm typically acts for high- and ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) individuals.

Burges Salmon LLP acts for The Crown Estate and National Trust, and assists private estates and major companies with agricultural land issues. Tom Hewitt (who is praised for his β€˜excellent service’) leads the team, which includes legal director Emma Folkes, who β€˜must be the best farmland conveyancer in the UK’.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP’s multidisciplinary team acts for a range of landed estates and UHNW families; β€˜few firms have the breadth of experience necessary to deal with all the related specialist areas’. Head of private client Bart Peerless leads β€˜a very strong team in this area’. Senior partner Christopher Page heads the rural business and landed estates practice.

Hunters incorporating May, May & Merrimans fields a 16-partner team led by Patricia Sykes which includes the β€˜excellent’ Jonathan Godwin-Austen, who is rated for his knowledge and communication; and the β€˜outstanding’ Alexandra Sarkis and Julia Richards. Clients range from landed estates to titled individuals.

β€˜Outstanding in this area’, Mills & Reeve LLP fields expertise in London as well as nationally through its regional office network, which is β€˜a major plus-point for many clients’. Agribusiness is a core area of focus for the firm, which attracts instructions from The Wellcome Trust, Oxbridge university colleges and multiple landed estates. Key figures include Amanda Tagg, Tim Ryan and Michael Aubrey, who β€˜gets the job done’.

Payne Hicks Beach’s β€˜excellent’ practice provides experienced, specialist advice to over 50 landed estates on all issues relating to private client and property. The β€˜strong team’ is led by firm senior partner Alastair Murdie and includes β€˜very good, strategic practitioner’ Robert Brodrick and Rosamond McDowell, who is β€˜clever and hardworking’ as well as being β€˜very difficult to intimidate’.

Thrings LLP’s β€˜strong agriculture practice’ is led by consultant Anita Symington, who has a β€˜wide range of experience’ and is noted for her expertise in agricultural tenancies and renewable energy. Clients include National Farmers Union, The Badminton Estate and Country Land and Business Association (CLA).

Currey & Co is a long-established private client and property boutique with a significant rural land and agriculture practice. Jonathan Redmayne stands out for his experience.

Standout individuals at Macfarlanes LLP include Tristan Ward and associate Olivia Buck, who are both β€˜excellent’.

Taylor Wessing LLP advises on high-value transactions for individuals and landed estate-owning families. Senior associate Luke Callaghan is β€˜intelligent, reliable and a very capable pair of hands’. Andrew Hine is recommended for trusts work.

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Legal Developments in London for Agriculture and estates

  • Parking rights: here to stay? Consent might be the surprising answer 

    In the field of the acquisition of easements by prescription, little has caused more consternation over the last decade or so than the question of whether a right to park cars can be acquired by twenty years user as of right. The types of property capable of being adversely affected range from individual residential units all the way up to major development sites. The establishment of such a right can have a devastating impact on the value of the burdened land.

    - Falcon Chambers

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