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

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Boodle Hatfield LLP is β€˜a sound private client firm’ with β€˜an exceptional depth of expertise’, which provides β€˜lucid and succinct advice as quickly as the client needs’. The team advises high net-worth individuals on investments into landed estates, country houses and farms, and undertakes the full range of agricultural work including tax planning, charitable ventures and the sale and purchase of agricultural land. Key practitioner Fiona Graham is β€˜always prompt in addressing questions’ and β€˜can explain difficult legal and taxation concepts in a way that is understandable to a layman’. Natasha Hassall has β€˜great attention to detail’, and advises on onshore and offshore trusts, tax planning and wills. Key clients include Grosvenor, Bedford Estates and the Wates Group.

Cripps LLP advises on the full gamut of issues in the agricultural sector including land sale and purchase, contract and share farming agreements, tax planning and grazing agreements, and also has a niche expertise in Stamp Duty Land Tax and its implications. The firm recently advised on a number of high-value property and estate acquisitions across the South East region, and also handled various sales of land for development and residential use. Notable individuals include Sally Firby, who specialises in high-value farm and country estates; Darren Philpot, who is noted for his expertise in financial tax planning in relation to estate acquisitions; and Peter Scott, who advises on inheritance tax. Evremond Estate is a key client.

Freeths LLP provides β€˜a comprehensive legal service to estate and rural property owners’, and has β€˜great attention to detail, and an appreciation of long-term client relationships’. The firm’s industry expertise spans the charities, education, professional services and insurance sectors, among others, and the team regularly handles the acquisition and disposal of farms, landed estates, woodlands and other agricultural assets. Practice head Iain Davis is β€˜a leading expert who is well qualified in landed property matters’; he recently advised an Oxford college on the grant of a building license with associated tax, construction, overage and property provisions. In another highlight, the β€˜practical and professional’ Sarah Duffy advised a farming family on the Β£10m sale of a 22 acre development site in Oxfordshire to a national housebuilder. Other leading figures include Jane Maitland, who β€˜provides wise counsel and a calm approach in difficult circumstances’, Samantha Leigh, who is β€˜conscientious, thorough and technically spot-on’, and Balvinder Jaj.

The β€˜top-notch’ team at Irwin Mitchell acts for a mix of farming companies, private individuals and institutional and charity clients, and has significantly bolstered its client base following its recent merger with regional firm Thomas Eggar LLP. Recent highlights include representing an individual in a dispute with Mid Sussex District Council, a matter regarding planning permission for the sale and development of a green space in West Sussex, and the firm also acted for Trenport Investments in opposing an application by the British Horse Society, which aimed to upgrade footpaths and bridleways across a 3500-acre estate in Kent. James Pavey heads the practice, advising primarily on land development potential; β€˜ultimate professional’ Richard Venables Kyrke is β€˜easily accessible to talk matters through’ and β€˜identifies potential problems quickly, advising the client accordingly’; and Anthony Nixon is recommended for tax and trusts matters.

Warners Solicitors provides β€˜an excellent service’ and β€˜explains all concepts simply in a user-friendly language’. The group advises on the full range of non-contentious property work and regularly handles the sale and purchase of farms, estates and grouse moors, and also advises on criminal and regulatory work over sporting rights, boundaries and other related land disputes. In a recent highlight, the firm assisted the executors of a will with the administration of a Β£1.5m estate in East Sussex, a matter handled by governance and charities expert Gail Hall. Other key figures include Steve Colville, who β€˜is able to effectively reassure the client in difficult matters’; Michael McNally, who acts for hunts, landed estates, farms and equestrian racecourses; and Tim Ryan, who specialises in country sport, animal welfare and firearms licensing. Samantha Bradburne is also a key name to note. Active clients include the Masters of Foxhounds Association, and the Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles.

Birkett Long LLP’s β€˜competent’ team β€˜undertakes all work in a timely manner and with great attention to detail’, and β€˜offers sound knowledge which is clearly explained to the client’. Key areas of expertise include succession and tax planning, trust and estate administration, property transactions, diversification and land ownership disputes. The firm also regularly acts for farms and landowners, advising on the full spectrum of matters across the South East. Practice head Caroline Dowding is β€˜very approachable, knowledgeable and capable of explaining complex concepts in layman terms’; Bruce Ballard is β€˜excellent on the trusts, wills and planning side’, and Mark Wrinch is β€˜diligent, well prepared and a very competent litigator’.

The β€˜highly competent’ team at Birketts LLP has β€˜very sound knowledge, great attention to detail’, and β€˜always explains everything clearly to the client’. Key areas of expertise include the sale and purchase of freeholds, agricultural commercial diversification, tenancy issues and renewable energy projects, among others. Jack Royall heads the department and advises on landlord and tenant matters, succession issues and planning. Associate Annabelle Rout deals with agricultural tenancy work, advising on easement grants for access, pipes and wires across agricultural land, and Leo McMahon handles sales, purchases and commercial lets for farming clients.

Blake Morgan LLP’s team advises on the full range of agricultural finance, diversification and land matters, providing tax and trust advice to commercial enterprises, estates and farms, handling renewable energy projects and assisting with sales, purchases and acquisitions of various types of land. Real estate partner Oliver Sowton is the key name to note along with tax planning specialist Douglas Smith, and employment law practitioner Sarah Peacock. Senior associate Caroline Lindon-Morris is recommended for sale and purchase matters, and also advises on the property and corporate aspects of farm diversification.

Brachers provides β€˜a high quality service’, and the team β€˜responds quickly, and has superb sector-specific knowledge’. The practice retains a solid longstanding client base of landowners, farmers and land-based businesses, and advises on the full scope of matters, including overage, agricultural tenancies, tax planning and disputes. The firm is currently advising East Malling Trust on all property matters arising from its merger with the National Institute of Agricultural Botany, including the reorganisation of the Trust’s estate and the securing of ten new leases covering land-based research, farming and laboratories. Sarah Webster is the key figure along with probate and estate planning lawyer Christopher Eriksson-Lee. Hadlow College and Kent County Agricultural Society are also clients.

The β€˜reliable’ group at Furley Page Solicitors acts for a mix of landed estates, charities and investors, and has significant renewable energy and development expertise. Senior associate Ethan Desai heads the practice, having joined the firm in January 2016 from Blake Morgan LLP; Desai specialises in rural property and development work, and recently advised St Nicholas Court Farms on its Β£5m purchase of a commercial arable holding in East Kent. In another highlight, the β€˜highly knowledgeable’ Christopher Wacher assisted G H Dean & Company with various legal agreements regarding the installation of an 18MV solar array.

Knights has β€˜a good following amongst landowners in the South East and nationwide’, and has β€˜a strong and tenacious commitment to the interests of the client’. Recent work included representing two individuals in a dispute over a lapsed access to adjoining fields, and assisting several clients with planning, judicial review claims for listed buildings and development rights issues. Senior partner Matthew Knight β€˜has achieved many successful outcomes thanks to his tough negotiating manner and willingness to go the extra mile’. Peter Burfoot β€˜knows the subject area well’ and β€˜offers realistic advice’.

The β€˜professional and diligent’ team at Spratt Endicott provides β€˜a good quality legal service’ and has β€˜an excellent reputation in the field’. The practice is noted for its expertise in rural property, and has recently advised a range of estate owners, investors and lifestyle buyers on uplift arrangements and planning issues. Key figure Christopher Goldingham is β€˜approachable and knowledgeable’; David Endicott advises private individuals on trusts, personal tax, planning and charities issues; and Andrew Woods has significant expertise in development and strategic land transactions. Howard Meakin is the name to note in Bicester.

Whitehead Monckton provides β€˜an excellent service across a wide range of matters’, β€˜good response times’ and β€˜a great depth of specialist knowledge’. The practice has a strong focus on tax and trusts issues and real estate advice, including planning support and agricultural occupancy matters. Highlights included advising F D Attwood & Partners on the site assembly of a 450-unit residential development building on a farmland site, assisting with permission issues and access over woodland. The β€˜strong team’ includes property expert Robert Coombe and Stephen Beck, who specialises in inheritance tax and wealth management.

Adams & Remers has recently advised on a number of option and promotion agreements, and is increasingly acting for local authorities on the sale of amenity land. The firm also handles work in relation to landed estates, farming partnerships, viticulture and listed property, and has increasingly advised new and existing clients on refinancing matters. Practice head Katherine Haslam has notable expertise in dealing with large-scale estates, and Robin Illingworth is the other key individual.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP is β€˜a well-respected firm in the landed estates and agricultural sector’, and has β€˜an impressive breadth of knowledge, with strong specialist expertise and a high level of understanding’. The group advises on tax, trusts and succession issues, estate management and landed estate and rural property transactions, and has a strong client base of private individuals and estate owners. Sally Ashford heads the private client practice, where property litigator David Haines is also a key figure. Jonathan Thompson has β€˜a clear grasp of matters impinging on agricultural legal affairs’, and β€˜is skilled at handling complex and sensitive client relationships’.

Field Seymour Parkes LLP is β€˜excellent on all counts’, advising a mix of farming and landowner clients and major agricultural estates on development agreements, tax efficient trust structures, partnerships and renewable energy installations, among other matters. The firm recently advised Atlantica Investments on the Β£800k purchase of a farm in Kintbury. Practice head James Burgess β€˜understands clients’ needs and is very adept at explaining legal concepts in simple terms’. Sue Vandersteen handles tax, trusts and estate planning matters, and Sarah Wray acts for high net-worth landowners on all aspects of land law. Other notable clients include Monksmead Farms and Mapledurham Estate.

Gepp & Sons Solicitors LLP is noted for its strong farming practice, its key areas of expertise including the development, sale and purchase of farm land, land registration and farm tenancies, housing and mortgages. Highlights included advising on the de-merger of a family farming company, and acting for several individuals on the Β£4m acquisition of farm land, successfully handling the financing and the property title issues. Edward Worthy is the key name to note; he has substantial experience dealing with all aspects of commercial and agricultural matters.

The β€˜experienced and highly professional’ team at Moore Blatch LLP provides β€˜a great level of service’, and is β€˜commercial, responsive, sure-footed and client-focused’. The practice advises on all aspects of rural business, including agricultural trusts and taxes, farm and land acquisitions, tenancy advice and estate management. The team has notable expertise in acting for landowners in land sales to developers, and also receives strong mandates from the housebuilding sector. Practice head Edward Whittington is β€˜reasonable, commercial and sensitive to client needs’, and Philip Whitcomb is also recommended.

Rix & Kay Solicitors LLP handles the full breadth of rural and agricultural matters for both businesses and private individuals, and has a strong presence in the farming, horticulture, viticulture and food production sectors. Practice head Richard Cripps specialises in commercial property, handling the financing and property aspects of mergers and acquisitions, and Nick Fagg advises rural-based clients on property, commercial and tax issues.

Tees Law has β€˜a great breadth of experience’ and β€˜a strong depth of dedicated expertise in the appropriate legal sectors’. The firm has a strong reputation in the farming sector, where it advises on the full array of issues including the acquisition and disposal of development sites, joint ventures and promotion and option agreements. The team also has significant cross-border expertise, frequently managing international estates for private individuals. David Miller, who is the key name to note, advises on acquisitions, disposals and tenancies along with diversification projects and renewables.

Thompson Smith and Puxon has recently advised a number of developers and landowners on the sales and acquisitions of various development sites. The team also acts for landlord and tenants on all lease-related matters, advises farmers on succession and estate planning, and handles the commercial aspects of rural businesses, including joint ventures and supply agreements. The practice is headed by Stephen Firmin, who has extensive expertise in all land-related transactions. Mary Anne Fedeyko specialises in corporate and commercial matters, and Richard Porter is recommended for employment matters.

Thomson Snell & Passmore provides β€˜a comprehensive legal service’ and β€˜deals with clients in a professional and competent manner’. The group’s wide-ranging client list includes landowners, estates, tenants and developers, and the firm advises on the full array of issues including land sales and acquisitions, renewable energy projects, development sites and planning matters. Key figure Sue Lister is β€˜thorough, efficient and always available when necessary’, and β€˜is well able to mix professionalism with empathy’. Gilbert Green specialises in development and agricultural property, and Helen Stewart handles planning and tax issues, and has significant experience in managing multijurisdictional estates.

Woodfines LLP’s β€˜excellent’ practice has β€˜a strong understanding of wills, tenancy agreements and purchases in the agricultural sector’. Recent work included acting for farmer clients in Bedfordshire in connection with a promotion agreement for residential development on farmland, a matter valued at Β£2m. The group also deals with probate and estate planning, and regularly handles commercial matters for businesses and rural landowners. Charlotte Benjamin heads the practice where Brian Bennett, Andrew Buckley and John Egan are also key figures.

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Legal Developments in South East 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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