The Legal 500

South West

United Kingdom > South West > Private client > Agriculture and estates


Burges Salmon LLP’s agriculture sector group is led by William Neville, who continues to handle contentious matters for The Crown Estate. Also recommended are tax specialist Charles Wyld and Alastair Morrison, who handles rural transactions. The group is able to draw on the firm’s corporate strengths to advise agribusinesses on M&A matters.

Clarke Willmott LLP’s agriculture and estates department handles contentious, regulatory and advisory matters for large landowners such as The Crown Estate, membership associations such as the NFU, and large farming businesses. Tim Russ’ team has ‘good awareness of the needs of those in the agricultural community’. David Maddock and Caroline Waller were promoted to partner.

Michelmores LLP’s acquisition of Wilsons’ Bristol office brought with it highly rated agricultural disputes specialists Peter Williams and Vivienne Williams . On the non-contentious side, team head Philip Wolfgang was joined by Tom Hyde, previously at Clarke Willmott LLP.

Thrings LLP’s agriculture expertise spans high-profile contentious and non-contentious matters. Team head Peter Cusick successfully led a High Court challenge for producer organisations, with a substantial amount of European funding at stake. The team is also advising the NFU in relation to the construction of a pipeline which will cross numerous agricultural holdings.

Charles Russell LLPprovides well-informed advice to the farming and estates sector which is tailored to the specific needs of the client and displays excellent knowledge of relevant law’. Christopher Page leads the team, which has a particular focus on tax planning and wealth management.

Foot Anstey is highlighted for its ‘strength in depth’, and acts for a broad client base across both contentious and non-contentious matters. Team head Joel Woolf and Angela Bridges are recommended.

Stephens Scown LLP offers a full service to farmers and businesses, and has particular expertise in advising landowners on renewable energy projects and mining rights. Practice head Philip Reed handles private client work, while Susie Murray is recommended on the property side.

At Ashfords LLP, Darren Blackburn and his team handle a range of transactions for farmers, landowners and businesses.

Battens Solicitors Limited’s agriculture team is praised for its ‘excellent service’, with practice head James Owen recommended.

Consultant John Fisher heads Davies and Partners’ agriculture team, which advises on transactions, restructurings and disputes.

At Dyne Drewett Solicitors Limited, Richard Pinney has ‘a great deal of farming experience’, and Jonathan Cheal impresses with his ‘lifetime career knowledge and experience in agricultural law’.

Christopher Stephens is a key contact at Follett Stock.

Specialist rural property firm Loxley Legal Services LLP fields a four-partner team with broad experience acting for agricultural landowners and businesses.

Pardoes’ Tim Howells is ‘well acquainted with agricultural law, and sure-footed in contentious cases’.

Trethowans LLP’s Marcus Thorpe is an expert in rural property transactions, and counts Standard Chartered Bank and Clydesdale Bank among his clients.

Noted ‘dealmaker’ Frank Smith has joined Willans LLP to build up its agriculture practice.

Wilsons now handles agriculture work from Salisbury, following Michelmores LLP’s acquisition of the firm’s Bristol office.

Withy King LLP’s Angus Williams is recommended. He recently acted on the dissolution of a multimillion-pound farming partnership.

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Legal Developments in South West 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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  • Home Office announces extension of support service for SMEs

    An online support service for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) which need to recruit skilled overseas workers has been extended until 28 February 2014. The pilot was launched by UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) in partnership with the Greater London Authority (GLA) and provides a step by step guide to sponsoring an overseas worker. This service is available via the GLA website.
  • Penningtons Manches' immigration team considers new changes to the Tier 4 Sponsor Guidance

    The Home Office has recently published new Tier 4 Sponsor Guidance, version 12/13. This guidance is to be used by all prospective and existing Tier 4 sponsors from 11 December 2013.
  • Finding the 
right words

    In the recent case of Newbury v Sun Microsystems [2013], the defendant argued that an offer to settle proceedings was ‘in principle' only and that a binding contract could not be formed until further terms had been agreed and a formal contract had been signed. It supported this argument by referring to a statement, in the offer letter, that the settlement was to be ‘recorded in a suitably worded agreement'. 

  • Behind the corporate veil: is that all there is?

    That companies have an existence entirely separate to that of their shareholders and directors is a foundational principle of English law and commerce.

  • Playing fair with penalty clauses

    It is often difficult to predict what will be recoverable as damages for breach of contract. To provide some certainty, parties will often seek to agree the sum that will be payable in the event of specified breaches. 

  • Restoring environmental damage: putting a price on ecosystem services

    On 7 August 2009 a 40-inch pipeline ruptured, spilling 5,400 cubic metres of crude oil into the soil and groundwater of La Crau nature reserve in southern France, a habitat protected under French and European law. The operator had to excavate and replace 60,000 tons of soil, install 70 wells to pump and treat groundwater and 25 pumps to skim oil from surface water, at a cost in the region of €50m. However, this was just the primary remediation (that is, restoring the site to the state it would have been if the damage had not occurred). The operator was also required to compensate for the damage to the habitats and the loss of the ecosystem services that would otherwise have been provided by La Crau nature reserve. Measures included purchasing land outside of the nature reserve and contributing to its management for a period of 30 years (over €1m), monitoring the water table for 20 years (over €500,000), monitoring fauna over three years (€150,000) and rehabilitation in accordance with best available ecological techniques (nearly €2m). Overall, the compensatory restoration (to compensate for the amount of time that the ecosystem was impacted) and complimentary restoration (to compensate for elements of the ecosystem that had been permanently lost) came to more than €6.5m. 

  • The role of arbitrators in EU antitrust law

    In May 2014, it will be ten years since Regulation No 1/2003 entered into force. When the legislator of the European Union adopted this Regulation on 16 December 2002, its main objective was to decentralise the enforcement of the two main provisions of EU antitrust law, Articles 81 and 82 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (now Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)). Where do the arbitrators fit in this picture?

  • New Immigration Bill, October 2013: cause for concern or appeasing public sentiment?

    The year 2013 has seen a string of reforms to the immigration system by the current coalition government. On 10 October, the government published a Bill aimed at continuing its drive to reduce net migration figures. 

  • New Schengen EU Regulations: impact on short-stay visa visitors

    The publication on 26 June 2013 of the European Union Regulation EU 610/2013 modified the incumbent Regulation EU 562/2006 in relation to third country nationals (ie non-EU citizens) and those travelling on a short-stay visitor visa, as well as those who do not require a visa to enter the Schengen area, Romania, Croatia and Bulgaria. Exceptions include EU and EEA nationals travelling to other EU/EEA states within the Schengen area together with foreign nationals holding either long-stay or residence permits for their destination Schengen countries.

  • New revised guidelines for administrators in pre-pack sales

    Pre-pack sales by administrators are now used frequently enough for most people in business to be aware of them and many have come across them in their business lives. A small amount of controversy still attaches to pre-packs, but it is probably right to say that they are now an accepted part of the UK business scene as a useful means of rescuing a business in difficulty and preserving some or all of the jobs connected with the business.
    - Druces

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