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  1. Agriculture and estates
  2. Leading individuals
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Who Represents Who

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β€˜One of the strongest firms in the region’, Bond Dickinson LLP provides a β€˜first-class legal service’ and is noted for its β€˜excellent, appropriate and pragmatic advice’. The practice is β€˜exceptionally strong in rural property issues and landed estates’ with the National Trust, English Heritage, Church Commissioners and Grainger as noteworthy clients. The β€˜clear, decisive and practical’ Simon Kirkup is β€˜very strong on strategy and ruthless on the detail’. He heads the department and advises private landowners, landowning charities and national businesses. Other key individuals include managing associate David Towns, who has expertise in rural land sales, estate management, sporting issues and minerals and manorial rights; β€˜highly reliable’ legal director Andrew Farquharson, who regularly advises landowners on grant of option agreements and minerals issues; and managing associate and estate planning specialist Emily Pike, who is β€˜great at the details, and always delivers on time’.

Cartmell Shepherd has β€˜an extremely efficient’ team, which provides β€˜reliable, sensible and professional assistance that inspires confidence’. The group is recognised for its tenancy expertise and has substantial experience in transactional mandates and renewable energy matters involving wind, solar PV and hydro schemes. Recent highlights include assisting Oakdale Farms with the purchase of agricultural land and advising HSBC on several farm sales and purchases. Practice head Jonathan Carroll attracts praise for his β€˜detailed technical knowledge of agricultural landlord and tenant legislation’ and for his β€˜firm but approachable manner and sound advice’. Clients also single out β€˜pleasant and professional’ associate Mark Jackson for his β€˜very approachable nature and ability to work collaboratively with others’; β€˜highly personable’ associate Claire Rawsthorn, who focuses on transactional matters; and associate Katherine Pretswell-Walker, who is lauded for her tenancy expertise.

Burnetts has a β€˜thorough, knowledgeable and approachable’ department that is praised for its β€˜excellent communication skills paired with efficient response times’, enabling it to β€˜provide solid guidance while making sure the advice given is appropriate to the client and the situation’. Key areas of strength for the department include advising on the sale and purchase of farms, agricultural tenancy work and planning matters. In a recent highlight, practice head Richard Miller (who attracts praise for his β€˜very professional manner’) advised Lloyds Bank on various agricultural refinancing matters; he also assisted Santander with the Β£1.5m refinancing of a North Cumbrian farm holding. Senior associate Joanne McKenzie’s β€˜excellent knowledge of the agricultural sector’ β€˜enables her to guide clients through tricky negotiations without faltering’. Senior associate Diane Barnes is also recommended and was part of the team advising a large Cumbrian farm holding on the due diligence relating to a Β£1m farm purchase.

Alison Hall heads the practice at Hay & Kilner and advises on agricultural property relief, eligibility for relief from inheritance tax, farm succession plans and partnership agreement drafting for farmers. The team also advises on the surrender of Agricultural Holdings Act (AHA) tenancies and the grant of new farm business tenancies; mineral rights issues; and land development matters. Other noteworthy individuals include associate John Luke, who has experience advising on the sale of agricultural buildings, residential dwellings and woodland; commercial property specialist Richard Freeman-Wallace, who regularly handles the conditional contracts and options for developments; litigator Martin Soloman and Lucy Gray, who represents landowners and farming clients in contractual disputes.

Jacksons Law fields a team of β€˜highly experienced’ and β€˜consistently reliable practitioners’, including practice head Adrienne Patterson and the β€˜excellent’ Simon Catterall, who is recognised for his experience representing farms and businesses in matters against local authorities. Inderjit Gill is recommended for contentious issues and managing partner Jane Armitage is β€˜excellent in dealing with land-based ownership, leases and mineral rights’. Litigator Toby Joel leads the firm’s equine practice, which handles personal and equine injuries, veterinary negligence and breach of contract matters. Recent highlights include advising on agricultural tenancy issues, a multi-party claim against an agricultural supplier and multiple property-related mandates. The group is also on the panel of the National Farmers Union.

The β€˜extremely knowledgeable’ team at Latimer Hinks Solicitors focuses on non-contentious matters such as agricultural property sales and purchases, tax and will planning, renewable energy projects, AHA tenancies, minerals options and development matters. β€˜Go-to lawyer’ Anne Elliott is recommended for succession and inheritance tax planning and β€˜is able to flex her style well to suit any particular situation’. The β€˜first-rate’ Neil Stevenson is noted for his experience in property issues and renewable energy projects, and β€˜excellent all-rounder’ Nicola Neilson advises on property sales, purchases and leases. Other key names include the β€˜trustworthy’ Elizabeth Armstrong and Adam Wood, who focus on estate administration and transactional matters respectively.

At Ward Hadaway, practice Neil Robson is noted for his expertise in land use and planning matters, and puts that knowledge to use for a client base that includes Welbeck Estates, the University of Newcastle, the Woodland Trust and the Canal & River Trust. In a recent highlight, Robson acted for Northumberland National Park Authority on the site acquisition, planning applications and construction aspects of a landscape discovery centre, including advising. In another key mandate, transactional property specialist Alex Cox recently advised Northumberland Estates on its acquisition from the Business Growth Fund of a stake in regional housebuilder Cussins. Other areas of expertise include agricultural tenancies, estate management and energy schemes. Mineral reserves expert Stefan Bainbridge (who joined the firm from Bond Dickinson LLP in mid-2016) and asset protection specialist Andrew Facer are also recommended.

BHP Law’s Darlington office includes several key agricultural figures, including practice head Peter Blackett, Helen Biglin and associate Mark Clayton. Recent highlights for Blackett include advising on land purchases, handling estate management issues, and assisting with land and farm building developments. Biglin is recommended for estate planning and inheritance tax advice, and Clayton focuses on transactional mandates. The team acts for a range of farmers, farming partnerships, landowners, developers and estates across the North East and North Yorkshire. Theakston Estates, Homedale Valley, Middle Caves and North East Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Market.

Key names in Gibson & Co Solicitors Ltd’s β€˜exceptional’ practice include wills and trusts expert Tony Gibson; agricultural property specialist David Bawn; Derwent Gibson, who focuses on livestock contracts and farm sales; agricultural conveyancing and land expert Michael Macgregor; and Harry Chrisp, who is singled out for his experience in farm and estate sales. In a recent highlight, Bawn, Chrisp and Gibson acted for various clients including The Church Commissioners for England and Wales, The Lonsdale Estate and The Allendale Estate on their mineral and manorial rights. Bawn also assisted NE Youth (formerly Northumberland Clubs for Young People) with its name change and worked with Chrisp on a farm sale.

Iain Nicholson & Co has a β€˜small but brilliant’ group that is β€˜extremely experienced’, provides β€˜excellent, tailor-made and practical advice’, and β€˜uses its expertise to the benefit of the client’. Iain Nicholson is β€˜a great asset to have in any situation’ and Peter Dakin is rated as β€˜a true specialist’; he recently advised on farm building purchases and land sales. Victoria Stevenson is recommended for agricultural property matters.

Sintons LLP’s β€˜top-notch team’ provides β€˜an excellent level of service’ to a wide-ranging client base that includes Newton Hall Northumberland, Royal Bank of Scotland and Banks Mining. The practice is headed by the β€˜highly valuable’ Tom Wills and includes the β€˜incredibly experienced’ Alan Dawson and energy project specialist Paul Liddle. Wills recently advised Barclays as funder and two individuals on the purchase of 360 acres of land, which included a listed farmhouse, multiple holiday cottages and a medieval settlement. Other highlights included handling multiple coal and wind farm developments for The Banks Group and assisting an individual with a solar farm option and the subsequent lease of farmland to an energy supplier. Commercial partner Christopher Welch is singled out with clients citing his β€˜ability to give outstanding and clear advice that cuts through any complexities’ as a key factor in his success.

Tilly Bailey & Irvine counts farmers, landowners, investors and developers among its clients, for which it handles farming and forestry issues, agricultural tenancies, developments, mineral extraction and sporting rights matters. Helen Dexter (who specialises in estate planning and trust matters) leads the group, which includes Andrew Beattie and Ian Cowan, both of whom specialise in agricultural property. Recent highlights for Beattie include advising on the acquisition of South Sharpley Farm, handling the disposal of agricultural land and farm buildings, and assisting multiple national banks with agricultural funding matters. The team also acts on tenancy issues, renewable energy schemes and tax matters.

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