Agriculture and estates in East Anglia

Ashtons Legal

Ashtons Legal's practice is known for its 'strong attention-to-detail and ability to communicate complex matters in a clear and concise way to the client'. Bury St Edmunds-based practice head Jeanette Dennis assists farmers with estate management, rights of way, partnerships and tenancies. Key partner Jonathan Long frequently works alongside Dennis at the same office to assist land agents and accountants on inheritance tax and succession planning for farm partnerships. Simon Cunningham in Norwich advises farmers, landowners, and agricultural businesses on all aspects of property law, particularly in regard to diversification projects. Senior associates Rebecca Gatens in Ipswich and Karen Bacon in Norwich also play key roles in the practice.

Practice head(s):

Jeanette Dennis

Other key lawyers:

Jonathan Long; Simon Cunningham; Karen Bacon; Rebecca Gatens


‘The team is very experienced in the field of agricultural tenancies and other matters.’

‘Strong attention-to-detail and good communication between the agent and the client.’

‘Strong attention-to-detail and an ability to communicate complex matters in a clear and concise way to the client. Available to be contacted at short notice and for online meetings to discuss progress, updates and the way forward.’

‘Strong areas of expertise.’

‘Good client relationships – I would particularly highlight Jeanette Dennis in this regard.’

Work highlights

  • Advising a wide-range of existing and new farm partnerships, primarily on matters of succession to the next generation and also to consolidate terms where there is an increasing non-agricultural element within the agricultural business.
  • Advising clients on the continued expansion of the renewables sector and also the increase in the amount of lending against renewable projects and against projects for diversification purposes.
  • Acting on diversions of public footpaths, CA 16 Deposits of Plans under the Highways Act 1980 and across various holdings and for various clients in 2022.

Birketts LLP

At Birketts LLP, ‘the rural team are experienced and provide concise and sensible advice’. In Norwich, practice head Chris Coupland and head of private client Jack Royall are skilled in advising on landlord and tenant matters, property transactions, partnership and succession planning issues. Cambridge-based land development specialist Jeremy Stanton is ‘a breath of fresh air, who constantly pushes things forward’. Rachel McKillop-Wilkin, also in Cambridge, is recommended for freehold and leasehold agricultural property issues. James Dinwiddy in Ipswich and Sophia Key in Norwich both have particular expertise advising on related high-value property transactions. Ipswich-based senior associate and agricultural property specialist Tom Verrill is noted for his ‘commitment, client care, attention-to-detail and sound advice’.

Practice head(s):

Chris Coupland

Other key lawyers:

Sophia Key; Rachel McKillop-Wilkin; James Dinwiddy; Katy Moss; Tom Verrill; Jack Royall; Jeremy Stanton


‘Tom Verrill was recommended to us and we have been extremely impressed by his commitment, client care, attention-to-detail and sound advice. We have valued Tom’s skilful approach in defusing situations from the earliest opportunity, knowing he has our best interests in the forefront of his mind. No other firm can boast such a sincere team member.’

‘The rural team are experienced and provide concise and sensible advice and, importantly, are easily accessible. Star performers within the team are Katy Moss, James Dinwiddy and Tom Verrill.’

‘Jeremy Stanton has been a breath of fresh air who constantly pushes things forward and has knowledge and experience in this field.’

‘They are one of the strongest property teams in the region dealing with the majority of land and farm transactions throughout East Anglia. They have strength and depth and time after time, get transactions over the line in a timely fashion.’

‘The team at Birketts have a key strength of having the vast depth of knowledge and diversity within the business whilst still being able to give the core value of the personal touch to all clients. Birketts have outclassed other firms in their want to add value to the situations they are involved in and procure the best results for their clients.’

‘I do not believe I would have received a service so tailored to my needs with any other firm.’

‘Sophia Key has a professional and pragmatic approach to issues whilst Jack Royall is extremely knowledgeable and professional.’

‘Birketts listened to my views at our first meeting and have carried these forward since. The team works well, with each individual knowing their field of expertise. They have all been very approachable and have a good understanding of my case, which in my eyes comes from good communications between the team and good leadership.’

HCR Hewitsons

HCR Hewitsons in Cambridge exhibits ‘fantastic experience and knowledge of the local area’, and the practitioners in the team ‘give clients the confidence that they are being listened to and understood, and that they are in the best possible hands’. Head of agriculture and rural affairs Denise Wilkinson and private client partner Elizabeth Davies are the most prominent practitioners in the large practice. The ‘outstanding’ James Frankland and ‘very bright, extremely personable’ legal director Emily Pumfrey are recommended for property-related matters. Simon Biggin, who frequently works with the NFU, advised Broadland Agricultural Water Abstractors Group on the Environment Agency’s Restoring Sustainable Abstraction programme.

Practice head(s):

Denise Wilkinson

Other key lawyers:

Elizabeth Davies; James Frankland; Emily Pumfrey; Simon Biggin; Helen Mutucumarana


‘Very knowledgeable about the subject matter and local idiosyncrasies. Personable, with a great eye for detail. In our case, they protected our position with vigour and demonstrated excellent commercial acumen. Well-connected to other professionals, with effective working relationships.’

‘Passion and commitment to their profession and a drive to go beyond for their clients. Clear management of expectations. James Frankland is outstanding.’

‘The HCR team has fantastic experience and knowledge of the local area. They are always approachable, and are increasingly unique as a firm who offer an opinion to clients, which is something that is fast disappearing from the industry, but much valued.’

‘Emily Pumfrey is fantastic. She is very bright, extremely personable, works quickly, and owing to her personal background, can relate and speak to farming clients in a way that very few can. James Frankland has fast become the go-to person for complex agricultural matters in the region. He is an extremely savvy operator who understands the commercial nuances and is very highly regarded by clients and professionals alike.’

‘The team are all professional and accessible and when contacted we found them to be knowledgeable and up to speed. give clients the confidence that they are being listened to and understood, and that they are in the best possible hands. I would certainly recommend.’

‘Emily Pumfrey is a standout individual. She is completely knowledgeable in her field and to compliment her extensive talent she is approachable and a delight to work with. She is professional and smart and we cannot think of anyone that we would rather have dealing with matters which are of great importance to us. We trust her implicitly.’

‘HCR Hewitsons have been a longstanding partner of our organisation and supporting land acquisitions, disputes and projects of national significance for a number of years. The firm are able to drill down to the necessary detail of a case quickly and effectively.’

‘Denise Wilkinson is an exceptional solicitor. Her range of knowledge is second-to-none and it is widely recognised that she engages with all sectors of the industry. Her history and knowledge enables her to provide clear and direct advice to suit our individual needs.’

Key clients

RSPB (The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds)

The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire

Mills & Reeve LLP

Mills & Reeve LLP is known for its ‘strength in depth, and breadth of knowledge and experience‘ in agricultural matters. Michael Aubrey who works in Cambridge and London, is head of the firm-wide food and agribusiness sector group, and he recently advised The Oxford Fund on the £60m acquisition of the Exning Estate in Newmarket. Catherine Scott, who joined from Howes Percival LLP in January 2023, now leads the Norwich agribusiness team and brings notable experience in advising landed estates. Amanda Tagg in Cambridge is highly recommended for her knowledge of agriculture property matters. Senior associate Louisa Butcher and principal associate Nicola Dernie in Norwich recently assisted with the sale of part of an estate comprising approximately 1,244 acres of farmland, woodland, and residential and agricultural buildings.

Practice head(s):

Michael Aubrey; Catherine Scott; Amanda Tagg

Other key lawyers:

Virginia Edgecombe; Louisa Butcher; Nicola Dernie; Dawn Chapman


‘They have strength in the depth, and breadth of knowledge and experience in this sector. We have instructed them as a family for over forty years.’

‘Virginia Edgecombe has maintained an overview of our dealings with outstanding associates Louisa Butcher and Nicola Dernie – all work faultlessly, in a timely, personal and good-humoured way.’

‘Good speed of responses, reasonable costs, and clarity of communication.’

‘They have a very good grasp of rural property issues. It is a large team who, between them, can deal with almost all issues that come up with rural property.’

‘Friendly and approachable, which makes the daunting task of instructing a legal professional that much easier.

‘Every single person who worked with us was friendly, professional, proactive and empathic to our needs. We had complete transparency in understanding fees, what work was required by them and us, and the timescales. We had solutions offered when we couldn’t see a way through and communication was superb.’

‘Louisa Butcher was superb all the way through our property matter. It was a huge emotional decision for us and there were, as is to be expected, obstacles along the way, which we were guided through smoothly. Nicola Dernie dealt with a farm purchase and was also wonderful, handling our impatience to get the purchase completed very well and and always giving sound advice with full reasoning so we understood the importance of thorough due diligence.’

‘The team think logically and provide effective advice on both simple and more complex matters. They have an ability to identify the key areas and to find solutions to the satisfaction of the relevant parties.’

Key clients

The Oxford Fund

Oxford University Endowment Management

St John’s College Oxford

Albanwise Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting on the acquisition of the Exning Estate in Newmarket which comprises 719 hectares of commercial, residential and agricultural properties including an Equine Hospital, 155-acre solar farm and 40 residential dwellings.
  • Advising a company and its JV partner on all aspects of the promotion of a 1,540 home site at Bayswater, Oxford.
  • Advising Albanwise Limited in relation to the relocation of a badger sett due to the installation of a wind farm cable easement, which includes advising on a deed to allow a developer to relocate a badger sett on land owned by Albanwise prior to the cable being laid.

Mishcon de Reya LLP

Mishcon de Reya LLP‘s Cambridge-based team has an noteworthy client roster which includes landed estates, private banks and landowners, both regionally and nationwide. ‘Pragmatic, professional’ head of the team Rupert Melville-Ross who specialises in farms and estates, and key partner Andrew Williamson who is noted as being ‘a true professional’, both recently acted for a US institution on the purchase of the 4,179-acre Coldham estate near Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, and the 4,206-acre Goole estate in East Yorkshire. ‘Friendly, intelligent and personable’ managing associate Louise Moore deals with a diverse range of properties, including large estates, cottages and grazing land, and has extensive experience with complex land ownership including trust land. Real estate partner Helen Mutucumarana departed to HCR Hewitsons in February 2023.

Practice head(s):

Rupert Melville-Ross; Andrew Williamson

Other key lawyers:

Louise Moore


‘They are diligent and professional team. Key strengths are that there is always someone who knows or has the right experience to deal with any matter.’

‘Rupert Melville-Ross is a great communicator, pragmatic, professional and with the mindset to get jobs done through his sensible approach to instructions.’

‘Andrew Williamson is always on-hand to answer the most complex queries. He is always calm and is a true professional who provides a great service in a relaxed manner.’

‘Louise Moore is an exceptional operator. Friendly, intelligent and personable in the heat of the moment. I would 100% recommend her to clients looking for a sizeable property. She is a great asset to the firm.’

‘Rupert Melville-Ross leads a strong team of highly capable individuals with a wide-range of skills and expertise.’

‘The turnaround of work which is way ahead of other legal firms and the rural team’s knowledge of the agriculture sector is excellent.’

‘The team are keen, knowledgeable and have the necessary depth to ensure coverage. They perform efficiently and are able to readily differentiate what are the important and more urgent matters.’

‘Rupert Melville-Ross is a leader in his field of rural property transactions. He ensures he understands what is required, the timescales involved and the clients’ wishes. He is well-supported by his team.’

Key clients

Jockey Club group

AgReserves Limited / Farmland Reserve (UK) Limited –

G’s Marketing Ltd

Longrove Farms Limited

C. Hoare & Co private bank

J E Piccaver & Co

Farcet Fen Limited

The Thorpe & Asgarby Estate Limited

Blackheath Farms LLP

Tompsett Burgess Growers

Work highlights

  • Acting for C Hoare & Co to take security over a £47m rural and commercial property portfolio.
  • Acting for multiple landowners on the complex Sizewell C Nuclear Power Station project.
  • Acting on the sale of a large Hertfordshire landed estate for £5m+.

Roythornes Solicitors

Roythornes Solicitors has a large agriculture practice across its Spalding office and its Huntingdon office, which is increasingly becoming a more significant hub of activity. Practice head Tim Russ who has ‘an encyclopaedic knowledge of agricultural law and works at pace with great efficiency and pragmatism‘, spends more time in the Alconbury office, alongside Claire Hindmarsh who is an authority on rural property matters. Agricultural property partner Matthew Hesketh joined the practice in September 2022 from Mills & Reeve LLP. As well as property matters, the firm is also highly regarded for commercial, tax and succession planning advice. They are noted as being able to ‘speak from experience on most matters’.

Practice head(s):

Tim Russ

Other key lawyers:

Claire Hindmarsh; Lizzie Walters; Julie Robinson


‘The Roythornes agricultural team is market-leading in its strength and depth of expertise. It is unquestionably one of the top few firms for work in this area.’

‘One of the leading practices for agricultural litigation.’

‘Tim Russ is a leading expert in agricultural property litigation, including such highly technical areas as proprietary estoppel, succession claims and partnership disputes.’

‘Tim Russ has an encyclopaedic knowledge of agricultural law and works at pace with great efficiency and pragmatism.’

‘Extremely talented team, swift to react and very commercial in approach. Can-do practicality with consummate professionalism.’

‘We find Roythornes to be well-placed and experienced in our activities. Their team approach to our needs is always reassuring, different specialists are called upon by each other to assist in getting the correct advice.’

‘We have had dealings with Lizzie Walters regarding our succession planning. Lizzie was extremely technically competent and also efficient. We are grateful for her fantastic efforts during what was a lengthy and complex set of transactions.’

‘Tim Russ is knowledgeable, dedicated and has a no-nonsense approach. He is rightly regarded as one of the leading lights in agriculture and estates disputes.’

Work highlights

  • Acting for a landowning family in relation to a 500MW solar development and energy storage park involving over 1,600 acres of land.
  • Litigating both in court and at arbitration for a father against his son in connection with the family farm which is worth in the region of £3m.
  • Acting for landowner trustees in a joint disposal transaction with a neighbouring landowner selling approximately 1100 acres of agricultural land to a national housebuilder for residential development for a total sale price of over £60m.

Greene & Greene

Greene & Greene in Bury St Edmunds provides a ‘personal and bespoke service' on work including farm sales and purchases, Settled Land Act matters, agricultural tenancies, succession planning and taxation. Practice head Jonathan Mathers, who is ‘logical, methodical, calm and experienced', acts for individuals and families, farming partnerships and companies, trusts, investors and charities in agricultural and rural property matters. Property specialist Hugo Greer-Walker continues to advise Viscountess Marcia Blakenham on a complex series of development sales. He is also assisting the Stennett family with numerous matters, including lettings at their business park, substantial agricultural acquisitions, and a large glass house project at Ingham.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Mathers

Other key lawyers:

Hugo Greer-Walker


‘They provide prompt responses to all enquiries and good turnaround time to keep deals on track. They take a sensible approach to queries raised forge good relationships with solicitors and clients to keep deals moving forwards.’

‘Jonathan Mathers gives excellent service, never lets me down and always forges a good relationship with solicitors from other companies involved in the deal. This keeps everyone content whilst the legal process progresses in what has become a protracted and detailed process nowadays.’

‘Very professional at all times kept the client informed and up to date with progress.’

‘Jonathan Mathers and his team are top class.’

‘Jonathan Mathers is easy to convey my views and wishes to. I genuinely believe that he has my interests in mind when advising me. He is quick-thinking and responsive in conversations and with all communications being dealt with efficiently. I am sure that he has far more demanding work with other clients, but I always feel that I am his only client.’

‘Good, honest, straightforward, straight-talking individuals who are well-versed in their field. They have strong depth-of-knowledge and a wide-ranging skillset.’

‘Jonathan Mathers is logical, methodical, calm and experienced. He has good communication skills and works well under pressure.’

‘Greene and Greene is an old-school practice where you feel confident that things will get sorted.’

Key clients

Genevieve Farms

The Blakenham Estate

Allpress Farms

The Cutting family

Howes Percival LLP

The agriculture and estates practice at Howes Percival LLP is regarded as being ‘totally supportive, knowledgeable and approachable‘. The firm is adept in farm and rural property transactions, financing transactions, agricultural holdings and tenancies and business structuring. Norwich-based practice head and Fellow of the Agricultural Law Association Katharine Danks is described as giving advice which is ‘clear, concise and timely’. Private client partner Stuart Maggs is ‘always available, strategic and has exceptional specialist knowledge’ of tax and succession planning. Catherine Scott departed to Mills & Reeve LLP in January 2023.

Practice head(s):

Katharine Danks

Other key lawyers:

Stuart Maggs


‘As regards the particular nuts we asked them to crack, they did a splendid job.’

‘I’ve worked mostly with Stuart Maggs but also with Katharine Danks; I’d rate both of them as ‘summa cum laude’ professionals.’

‘Having used the team for many years now we find them totally supportive, knowledgeable and approachable. Excellent with dealing with matters on agricultural estates. We trust them implicitly to provide us with help and advice to achieve the best outcome. They have dealt with difficult and complex issues and we cannot fault their approach – always highly professional, calm and systematic.’

‘Katharine Danks is exceptional. She has excellent specialist knowledge and has the gift of explaining and communicating simply. Her advice is always clear, concise and timely. Attention-to-detail was second-to-none and always rigorous and focused. She is so supportive and highly professional. Always going the extra mile – she is personable and incisive.’

‘Katharine Danks has been involved with numerous, often difficult, cases and we totally trust her judgement. Her dedication to her clients is second-to-none. Stuart Maggs provided excellent tax advice and guided us through succession planning. He is always available, strategic and had exceptional specialist knowledge. The team explained all the costs, were transparent and kept us abreast of any changes.’

‘Very good level of detail provided in a timely manner. Able to deal with complex issues with multiple stakeholders.’

‘Katherine Danks has a very professional approach with a high-level of detail and knowledge about the sector.’

Key clients

The Cholmondeley Estate (Norfolk and Cheshire)

Tees Law

Tees Law‘s Cambridge-based team is noted as giving well thought through advice and support’. Senior associate Alex Waples who handles property matters, and senior partner Catherine Mowat, who focuses on the administration of complex rural estates and succession planning, lead the Cambridge agriculture and estates practice. Key partner James Dowson handles agricultural property transactions, including high-value sales and purchases of land, and strategic land deals.

Practice head(s):

Catherine Mowat; Alex Waples

Other key lawyers:

James Dowson


‘Tees are very good on the traditional rural landowner side. They are particularly good at development agreements and ensuring that landowners get the full value out of development opportunities.’

‘James Dowson cares passionately about getting the right result for clients and has a real understanding as to how private clients think and function. He also takes an inter-generational view with their clients which is very important.’

‘Alexander Waples is highly recommended by us for his professionalism, approach, knowledge and technical aptitude – a safe pair of hands.’

‘Considerable knowledge on agricultural inheritance tax matters.’

‘Responsive individuals that are good at collaborative working.’

‘A broad-range of skills available for all rural issues with good response times and pragmatic advice. Costs are competitive. They have a particular specialism in renewables, development options, conveyancing and disputes.’

‘The team is very efficient at getting the job done, and happy to use the technology available when appropriate.’

‘Alex Waples has always been very approachable and willing to pursue all angles to get answers and move the project forward.’

Key clients

Lightsource BP

Work highlights

  • Acting for Lightsource BP on the funding and operation of a range of solar installations on sites across the UK.
  • Advising on a complex underlease of £120m gross development value, low carbon 30-acre glasshouse with energy centre and reservoirs.
  • Providing strategic estate planning and property advice to a farming family, worth in excess of £35m, including consideration of trusts and partnerships, preparation of new Wills and PoAs, and renewals of leases and securities.

Fraser Dawbarns

Fraser Dawbarns have a growing workload which includes advising farmers on property transactions for farmers, as well as advising clients on diversification projects including wind, solar and battery. Lead partner Daniel Ball, who specialises in agriculture and estates work, handles property matters and renewable energy projects, a recent examples being the £1.5m sale of seven acres of land, with planning permission for a protein synthesising plant. The firm also handled the s106 work to procure planning permission for client Naylor Farms.

Practice head(s):

Daniel Ball


‘We have been working for many years and they recently assisted us on a multi-million pound project, working very well with global lawyers in the process.’

Work highlights

  • Advised a farm on the disposal of seven acres of land which had been awarded planning permission for a new protein synthesising factory in the town of Spalding.

Hunt & Coombs LLP

Hunt & Coombs LLP's practice handles property, corporate and private client matters relating to the agricultural sector, and is noted as providing ‘prompt clear and excellent advice'. Peterborough-based April 2022-promoted partner Olivia Chalmers leads the practice. Former lead partner Anna Spriggs moved to Howes Percival LLP's Northampton office in April 2023. Associate James Steward handles real estate matters and is based in Oundle, whilst senior partner Paddy Appleton advises rural clients on wills, trusts and probate matters. Private client partner Sallyann Short in Huntingdon frequently assists agricultural family estates.

Practice head(s):

Olivia Chalmers

Other key lawyers:

Paddy Appleton; James Steward; Sallyann Short


‘Prompt clear and excellent advice.’

Spire Solicitors LLP

The agriculture practice at Spire Solicitors LLP handles probate and estate planning, contentious matters including succession claims, corporate and commercial matters relating to partnerships and contracts, as well as agricultural land sales and tenancies. Attleborough-based Carl Heywood leads the practice and has extensive experience in both private client and property-related matters. He frequently advises on multimillion-pound farm sales, and counts several local businesses, farming families and large food providers among his clients.

Practice head(s):

Carl Heywood


‘Easy to contact and always answer emails.’

‘Happy to take calls.’

‘You receive a friendly welcome and an efficient service.’