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United Kingdom > West Midlands > Private client > Agriculture and estates > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

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  1. Agriculture and estates
  2. Leading individuals

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FBC Manby Bowdler LLP’s ‘professional and efficient’ eight-partner agricultural team is headed by the highly rated Steven Corfield and has handled matters involving partnership restructurings, succession planning and retirement disputes. On the contentious side, family law specialist Elizabeth Cleverley represented a wife in a dispute with her husband regarding valuation evidence and questions of liquidity, while associate Suzanne Tucker assisted Brian Aikman with a partnership retirement dispute revolving around the Agricultural Holdings Act of 1986. Non-contentious highlights for Sarah Baugh included advising on the maximisation of inheritance tax relief on a substantial farming estate, and handling the documentation and negotiation of an option to lease of an energy barn. Tom Devey advised on the acquisition of a dairy farm. The practice’s Telford office was recently strengthened by the arrival of employment specialist Julia Fitzsimmons from George Green LLP, and solicitor Anna Russell joined the Shrewsbury office from Mortimers Solicitors.

Clients find the service at Lanyon Bowdler to be ‘excellent – 10/10’. The team, led by managing partner Brian Evans from the Shrewsbury office and including Hereford-based associate Jon Clifford, advises on a range of agricultural matters for rural clients including dispute resolution, and property and family issues. In a recent highlight, dispute resolution practice head Andrew Pegg is acting for a herder in negotiations with DEFRA for a settlement payment in in the event of having to slaughter livestock due to a TB infection. Property development expert Andrew Evans acts for clients such as Oaklands Farm Eggs on a wide range of non-contentious matters. Associate Ruth James left the firm to take up a position as legal counsel for Müller. Other clients include the NFU, the Oswestry and District Agricultural Society, and the Wynnstay Group.

Agricultural work lies at the core of Lodders Solicitors LLP’s practice, with clients rating its team, led by the ‘efficientJames Spreckley, as ‘experts in this area and difficult to beat’. Spreckley handled several high-value land sales, while Mark Lewis led the advice on the liquidation of a large estate following a familial dispute between the two owners. In other real estate related highlights, the firm acted for a breed society client on planning issues related to the development of some of its land, and Ian Flavell is acting for a large landed estate in connection with a tax planning exercise in favour of the owner’s son. On the contentious side, Jane Senior represented a tenant farmer in a dispute with his landlord who served an eviction notice to the tenant alleging breach of covenant. The firm’s real estate team recently recruited Mark Miller from Wright Hassall LLP, who advises clients on large-scale development schemes. The Jockey Club, the RD Turner trust, and the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers are all clients.

Wright Hassall LLP’s agricultural team acts for clients in land transactions, estate and tax planning and disputes, and represents both tenants and landlords in contentious challenges and notices to quit under the Agricultural Holdings Act. Department head Paul Rice acted alongside associate Sarah Beer on the restructuring of a farming and touristic estate involving a substantial third party investment and two 20-year leases. Farming team leader Alex Robinson acted for a consortium of purchasers of a landed estate, which involved advising on secured lending, tax planning, and an investigation into a disused tip. Other highlights for the team including acting alongside the firm’s construction and tax lawyers for a farming family with regards to a diversification strategy consisting of building an anaerobic digestion facility, and is currently acting as counsel to the Royal Agricultural Society of England in connection with the amendment of its constitutional document and by-laws. Associate Jennie Wheildon has strong experience acting for charities with regards to property transactions.

Kate Smith leads Knights Professional Services Limited’s agricultural team in the West Midlands. She acts for a diverse range of businesses and prominent families, with special emphasis on tax and succession planning and land settlements. Brona Simmonds and associate Ben Brassington are also key contacts.

Peter Snodgrass leads Shakespeare Martineau LLP’s agricultural team and clients appreciate his ‘down-to-earth knowledge and approachable nature’. He is supported by litigation expert Richard Thorpe, employment law specialist and legal director Alan Dark, and Catherine Walker, who is noted for her family law experience. Recent mandates include Walker’s work on divorce proceedings between a farmer and his wife, and Dark’s advice to a company with regards to a redundancy complicated by the client’s wish to maintain a commercial relationship with the employee while terminating his employment and his tenancy of a cottage on the farm premises. Andrew Ford recently joined DAC Beachcroft LLP.

Under the leadership of consultant Simon James and probate expert Marie Tisdale, Ansons assists clients with conveyance work, partnership agreements, developments and trusts. Recent highlights include advising three farming families on promotion agreements, tax suspension provisions, sales by tranches, and a collaboration and equalisation agreement; and handling a sale of land for development conditional on planning. Associate Neil Faunch specialises in land acquisitions, easements, drainage and environmental issues; he recently acted for a client in a land disposal matter complicated by pre-existing overage arrangements. Consultant David Anderton, associate Jon Rowley and head of commercial property Adele Wakefield are also key contacts.

Hatchers Solicitors LLP’s agricultural team is headed by Valerie Edwards, who also heads the firm’s commercial property practice, and is supported by dispute resolution head and associate Esther Richards. Non-contentious highlights included advising farming clients with regards to high-value property transactions, development projects, and tax issues. On the contentious side, Richards and assistant solicitor Jennifer Woods advised clients on partnership disputes, a complicated contentious probate claim, and property litigation. Solicitor Georgia Wakeley, who works in the wills and probate team, is also recommended.

Clients of MFG Solicitors LLP rate associate Helen Gough, whose ‘contentious work is particularly strong with an outstanding knowledge of agricultural tenancy law’. She works alongside department head Iain Morrison, the ‘highly competent property lawyer’ Justin Travelyan Parker, and ‘very approachable, professional and thorough’ associate Nicholas Playford, who works in the Telford office. Other key names include Bromsgrove-based head of rural disputes Kirsten Bridgewater and consultant James Quinn. All named individuals are based in Worcester unless specified otherwise.

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Legal Developments in West Midlands 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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