Agriculture and estates in East Anglia

Ashtons Legal

Ashtons Legal has 'a knowledgeable and well resourced team that can deliver good advice in a timely way'. The firm has one of the largest and most experienced practices in the region. Jonathan Long in Bury St Edmunds specialises in inheritance tax and family succession matters for farmers. Also in Bury, Jeanette Dennis is a key adviser to farmers on estate management, rights of way, partnerships and tenancies. Simon Cunningham in Norwich specialises in compulsory purchase and renewable energy projects in the rural sector. Clients describe him as 'brilliant, a pleasure to deal with and always has practical advice in complex situations'. Senior associates Karen Bacon in Norwich, who joined in the merger with Steeles Law and is 'thorough and knowledgeable', and Rebecca Gatens in Ipswich both play key roles in the practice.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Long

Other key lawyers:

Jeanette Dennis; Simon Cunningham; Karen Bacon; Rebecca Gatens


‘Ashtons have an excellent agriculture and estates team with the benefit of being able to draw upon the wider expertise in this multi-disciplinary firm. They are very easy to deal with – approachable and with good communication.’

‘Simon Cunningham is brilliant, a pleasure to deal with and always has practical advice in complex situations.’

‘Jonathan Long is well respected in East Anglia as a superb agricultural lawyer.’

‘A team dedicated to serving their clients’ needs. Ashtons specifically bring a practical understanding and experience to their advice.’

‘Our contact with Ashtons is particularly led by individuals who have been with the firm for a long time which helps deliver consistency. However, they are also dynamic in their approach which means they can bring new and innovative ideas to their clients.’

‘Simon Cunningham was particularly patient and amenable. He was clearly very knowledgeable and experienced in his professional field. I found him to be quick to respond where he could. He was also quick to advise if he felt he would be delayed in responding for whatever reason. He was extremely professional at all times.’

‘Knowledgeable and well resourced team that can deliver good advice in a timely way.’

‘Karen Bacon is thorough and knowledgeable. Service is prompt and friendly.’

Work highlights

  • Acting for in excess of 500 farm partnerships, farm trusts and settlements in respect of businesses across England.
  • Acting on in excess of £900m worth of lending / land under loans across England, the majority being in respect of funding of renewable projects.
  • Acting for in excess of £850m of sales, purchases, overages and promotion agreements across England.

Birketts LLP

Birketts LLP has a large agriculture and estate practice that is led by Chris Coupland in Norwich. He focuses on agricultural property matters including freehold sales and purchases, landlord and tenant matters and renewable energy projects. Also in Norwich, head of private client Jack Royall is a long-standing adviser to the farming community on property and succession planning matters, and up-and-coming partner Sophia Key is ‘exceptional in giving sound and practical advice that meets the client’s objectives‘. In Cambridge, Rachel McKillop-Wilkin in Cambridge and James Dinwiddy in Ipswich ‘understand the issues and are highly effective‘. Also in Ipswich, senior associate Tom Verrill is an agricultural property specialist.

Practice head(s):

Chris Coupland

Other key lawyers:

Sophia Key; Rachel McKillop-Wilkin; James Dinwiddiy; Katy Moss; Tom Verrill; Jack Royall


‘James Dinwiddy and Rachel McKillop-Wilkin understand the issues and have been highly effective. Katy Moss is extremely efficient and has turned round work very quickly’

‘The agricultural team is exceptionally hard working and conscientious. The team apply a commercial pragmatic approach. They are well respected across the whole industry and have strength and depth right through the firm.’

‘Tom Verrill is highly experienced and sensible, with sound judgement and is extremely professional and efficient.’

‘Great level of communication with Client and other professionals and have a pragmatic approach’

‘Good and broad depth of knowledge and resources. Practical and rounded advice give. Excellent position in the marketplace as dominant East Anglia rural property and agriculture team’

‘Sophia Key is exceptional in giving sound and practical advice that meets the clients’ objectives and is commercial in outlook.’

HCR Hewitsons

HCR Hewitsons in Cambridge ‘works to a high professional standard, is well informed, and covers all necessary disciplines and covers them well‘. In 2021, the firm handled sales and purchases of agricultural land with a total value in excess of £250m. It also acted for landowners in strategic land agreements valued at more than £700m. Head of agriculture and rural affairs Denise Wilkinson and private client partner Elizabeth Davies, who frequently leads the agriculture team’s work on estates matters, are ‘both thorough, tenacious and responsive‘. Wilkinson, who is ‘pragmatic and very focused‘, has a broad practice advising smaller farmers, landed estates or major institutions. Newly promoted partner James Frankland handles property matters, as does legal director Emily Pumfrey, who joined from Greenwoods Legal.

Practice head(s):

Denise Wilkinson

Other key lawyers:

Elizabeth Davies; James Frankland; Emily Pumfrey


‘Exceptional knowledge and expertise in agriculture and land use matters, eg solar projects, housing developer agreements, tenancy arrangement etc Exceptional all-round advisers in related private wealth including Will preparation, conveyancing, family/business reorganisation. Consistently strong.’

‘Denise Wilkinson and Elizabeth Davies – both thorough, tenacious and responsive.’

‘The agriculture team is highly knowledgeable and has strength in depth. Denise Wilkinson in particular is pragmatic and very focused. She is highly experienced and a pleasure to work with.’

Key clients


The Philpot family and family companies

The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire

Mills & Reeve LLP

Mills & Reeve LLP is 'excellent at dealing with complex matters on agricultural estates such as development land and also tax issues', and clients praise its 'ability to understand the issues and its speedy and efficient response times'. The firm has a national practice for rural land transactions and the Cambridge and Norwich offices are key hubs for the broader practice, which is one of the largest specialist agricultural property teams in the UK, comprising 27 lawyers. Michael Aubrey, who works in Cambridge and London and is joint head of the firm’s food and agribusiness sector. Property specialist Amanda Tagg in Cambridge has extensive experience of rural land development and renewable energy projects and real estate investment and asset management.

Practice head(s):

Michael Aubrey

Other key lawyers:

Amanda Tagg; Michael Hesketh


‘Excellent at dealing with complex matters on agricultural estates such as development land and also tax issues.’

‘Ability to understand the issues and speedy and efficient response times.’

‘Great general capabilities with excellent specialist knowledge and experience.’

‘in depth experience and knowledge, determination and eye to details.’

‘Very user friendly and knowledgeable they make it very easy.’

‘No problem is too difficult for Matthew Hesketh. Very communicative. Very timely.’

Key clients

The Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral Church of Christ in Oxford of the Foundation of King Henry the Eighth

Albanwise Limited and Albanwise Synergy Limited

G’s Group

Work highlights

  • Advised the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral Church of Christ in Oxford of the Foundation of King Henry the Eighth on the purchase of approximately 775 acres of land on the periphery of north Oxford to align with land already owned by them and to add into the planning and disposal objectives in the context of long-term strategic planning.
  • Advising Albanwise Limited and Albanwise Synergy Limited on the grant to Orsted Hornsea Project Four Limited (Orsted) of an option to call for the grant of leases (compound, project and network operator) in connection with the Hornsea Project Four offshore windfarm to be constructed by Orsted in the North Sea.
  • Acted for G’s Group, (one of the largest food growers in the country with a turnover of over £550m), on the implementation of a complex reorganisation which saw their corporate group divided in to two separate groups but each owned by the same shareholders.

Roythornes Solicitors

Roythornes Solicitors ‘understands the mechanics of land title and the associated accounting principles, giving advice in a calm practical way to get a positive resolution‘. Agricultural matters are a core focus for the firm and its Alconbury office is home to substantial experience and expertise. Julie Robinson, who is a former chief legal adviser to the NFU, is active in advising on agricultural landlord/tenant matters and joint ventures between farmers. Tim Russ is a specialist in Agricultural Holdings Act tenancies and contentious farm partnership and property claims. Up-and-coming partner Claire Hindmarsh has extensive expertise in dealing with land subject to secure Agricultural Holding Act tenancies and their surrender, particularly in relation to commercial development. Senior associate Kirsten Rimmer also plays a key role in the practice.

Practice head(s):

Julie Robinson; Tim Russ; Claire Hindmarsh

Other key lawyers:

Kirsten Rimmer


‘Agricultural specialists in family disputes.’

‘Understanding the mechanics of land title and the associated accounting principles, giving advice in a calm practical way to get a positive resolution, keeping dialogue going to maximise the clients objective, keeping the case away from the courts and settling on terms acceptable to all parties, bringing in professional competencies to prevent any misunderstanding from either side of the dispute.’

Key clients

The Environmental Farming Group

The Green Farming Collective

Evolution Farming

Elveden Estate

Cheveley Park Farms

Countryside Alliance

Huntingdon Freemen’s Trust

Work highlights

  • Advised members of a farming co-operative on the implications of a natural capital agreement funded by a consortium of food chain companies.
  • Acted for an Australian farm business in securing a lease of a livestock unit in Cambridgeshire.
  • Acted in the purchase of a 400-acre arable farm.

Taylor Vinters, Part of the Mishcon de Reya Group

Taylor Vinters, Part of the Mishcon de Reya Group in Cambridge has 'a dynamic and forward thinking partnership', and clients note that its lawyers 'go the extra mile,  know their subject, are good at providing advice in a timely manner and are keen to get the right job done'. The firm has expertise in large, complex and high-value farm transactions, succession and tax planning, renewable energy projects, AHA tenancy work and much more. Head of farms and estates Rupert Melville-Ross (who is 'without doubt one of the best transactional lawyers in East Anglia and beyond') and head of real estate Helen Mutucumarana are the lead practitioners. Andrew Williamson is a key adviser on agricultural tenancies and succession planning. Associate Louise Moore is recommended and recognized for complex and high-value transactions including residential development projects, option agreements and agricultural tenancies.

Practice head(s):

Rupert Melville-Ross; Helen Mutucumarana

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Williamson; Louise Moore


‘Taylor Vinters is a go-ahead firm that has built a strong technology base. It has a dynamic and forward thinking partnership.’

‘Rupert Melville-Ross is without doubt one of the best transactional lawyers in East Anglia and beyond. He has a clear understanding of the clients objectives and to expedite the deal in a timely manner. He has that increasingly rare quality of cutting to the issues that really matter and guiding the client accordingly rather than spending the clients money on unnecessary and time consuming matters’

‘Taylor Vinters really do act as a team.’

‘Taylor Vinters go the extra mile. They know their subject, are good at providing advice in a timely manner and are keen to get the right job done.’

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+.

Barker Gotelee

Barker Gotelee in Ipswich is ‘a small firm that punches above its weight in the agricultural property sector‘ and clients remark that it has ‘an excellent team with hardworking individuals with superb technical knowledge‘. The firm handles property, tax, trusts and contentious matters for farming families across East Anglia. The agriculture team works closely with the private client practice on complex estate planning and succession matters. Lead partner Andrew Nicholson is ‘an excellent property lawyer and a very pragmatic and sensible individual‘.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Nicholson


‘A good property team – efficient in conveyancing work.’

‘Andrew Nicholson is an excellent property lawyer and a very pragmatic and sensible individual.’

‘A small firm that punches above its weight in the agricultural property sector. They have an excellent team with hardworking individuals with superb technical knowledge.’

‘A good team dealing with matters in a professional and personal capacity’

‘Over a period of thirty years I have enjoyed a close relationship with the agricultural team who have good knowledge and are always prepared to discuss and deal with matters on a personal basis.’

Greene & Greene

The agricultural and rural affairs practice at Greene & Greene in Bury St Edmunds has a diverse client base that ranges from long-established estate owners to new investors. It frequently handles farm sales, Settled Land Act matters, tenancies and succession planning. Lead partner Jonathan Mathers is a key adviser to farming partnerships and companies, trusts, investors and charities. Property specialist Hugo Greer-Walker advised Viscountess Marcia Blakenham and The Honourable Caspar Hare on the complex sale of part of their estate to facilitate a large warehouse development on neighbouring land which is being built on the A14 corridor. The sale had to balance the interests of the Scottish Power wind turbine scheme and the adjoining glasshouse agricultural business.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Mathers

Other key lawyers:

Hugo Greer-Walker

Key clients

Viscountess Marcia Blakenham and The Honourable Caspar Hare

Allpress Farms

Orbital Foods Limited

Howes Percival LLP

Howes Percival LLP has a broad practice that advises on farm and estate sales, environmental schemes, tenancies and tax structuring, though its forte is trusts and estate matters. Practice head Catherine Scott leads a four-partner group in Norwich, in which private client partner Stuart Maggs provides strategic advice for families and trusts on their business and personal matters, including preparing wills, estate planning, trusts, powers of attorney. Katharine Danks is a Fellow of the Agricultural Law Association and advises on a range of matters including trusts, taxation, land law, agricultural holdings, Town and Country Planning and the Common Agricultural Policy.

Practice head(s):

Catherine Scott

Other key lawyers:

Katharine Danks; Stuart Maggs

Key clients

The Cholmondeley Estates (Norfolk and Cheshire)

Hunt & Coombs LLP

Hunt & Coombs LLP in Peterborough is known for its ‘local knowledge, long-term stability and reliability‘. The firm’s property work includes site acquisition, assembly and disposal, as well as joint ventures, infrastructure and planning agreements, farm business tenancies and other lettings. Property partner Anna Spriggs leads the agriculture and estates practice, and she advises businesses ranging from multimillion-pound commercial enterprises to small ecclesiastical property funds. Henry Anstey and, in Oundle, Paddy Appleton (who ‘provides excellent service regarding probate and wills‘) have extensive experience in dealing with rural estates. Sallyann Short in Huntingdon also focuses on agricultural family estates.

Practice head(s):

Anna Spriggs

Other key lawyers:

Henry Anstey; Paddy Appleton; Olivia Chalmers


‘Local knowledge, long-term stability and reliability.’

‘The agricultural team has extensive knowledge of all aspects of agricultural law, planning, development, inheritance and succession. We have been clients of Anna Spriggs and her team for very many years, and have found their work on our behalf and advise given, have always been first class. Anna’s thorough approach to recent agricultural development, land sales and acquisition gives us great confidence that all aspects of the legal documentation has been completed with great due diligence, and efficiency.’

‘Anna Spriggs has been looking after our business legal work for many years now, and Olivia Chalmers has worked with us on Land Registry submissions and mortgage applications in more recent times. Both are very willing to meet one to one, and are usually very prompt to answer phone calls and emails. They are also very keen to make sure that we, as clients have full understanding of the work they are doing on our behalf.’

‘Paddy Appleton, from the Oundle office, has also provided an excellent service regarding probate and wills in recent years. I have always found everyone at HC very approachable.’

Key clients

The Peterborough Diocesan Board of Finance

Work highlights

  • Advised the Peterborough Diocesan Board of Finance on various matters including: complex covenant releases and reverter provision, statutory vesting procedures, disposal of parsonages and land for development, disposal and management of glebe land, commercial leases and licences for church and/or education use – including acquisition of new church sites, promotion agreements, collaboration and option agreements.
  • Advising The Peterborough Diocesan Board of Finance on two interconnected option agreements with additional complexities of local objections under ecclesiastical law.

Tees Law

Tees Law in Cambridge is known for 'attention to detail, prompt response to queries and questions and understanding clients needs'. Senior partner Catherine Mowat and 'very professional and approachable' associate Alex Waples lead the Cambridge agriculture and estates practice. Mowat assists private landowners and farming families with the administration of complex rural estates and succession planning, as well as wills and powers of attorney. Waples, who leads the rural property team along with partner James Dowson, predominantly handles farm and land disposals and acquisitions, leasehold arrangements, diversification projects, renewables and farming partnership agreements for individual farmers, farming partnerships and corporate entities, as well as landed estates.

Practice head(s):

Catherine Mowat; Alex Waples

Other key lawyers:

James Dowson


‘Alex Waples brings a practical knowledge of the dynastic issues within a family farming business when advising on complex legal matters. Ian Johnston offers a relaxed and reassuring approach to problems. One senses that any problem he will have encountered and dealt with in a previous case. Daniel Fairs is a go to player when property is involved.’

‘A good firm with a large team with specialists in all sectors meaning they can cater for all our requirements on a range of different jobs.’

‘They asses our specific needs and understand family farming business very well. I have received great service from Catherine Mowat and James Dowson.’

‘Tees Law is a large regional legal practice which provides a full range of legal services and advice under one roof. Their knowledge across all sectors we have engaged has been excellent. Their availability has been excellent, even during the Covid pandemic. I have no hesitation in recommending them.’

‘The team offer integrated advice based on individuals skills,specialist knowledge and experience.’

‘Attention to detail, prompt response to queries and questions and understanding clients needs.’

‘Catherine Mowat is extremely helpful and very approachable with a very pleasant manner. We would certainly use her again. Then we were passed to James Dowson who we are pleased with and work is still in process. We are very happy with the service we have received and is still ongoing.’

‘Alexander Waples – Alex was very professional and approachable. He quickly understood our position and what we needed going forward. We found his advise to be very effective and efficient. His advise is also so on point and thinking ahead.’

Key clients

Lightsource BP

Work highlights

  • Advice to a farming partnership on a dual 100MW battery storage scheme and 50MW solar energy scheme, encompassing in the region of 250 acres of their farm.
  • Advice to a prominent farming estate in the purchase of a £7.8million mixed use farm, within tight timescales and an off-market and confidential acquisition.
  • Strategic estate planning advice for a farming family, including consideration of trusts, partnership and other personal interests with a view to long term succession of the farming business.

Greenwoods Legal

The Peterborough office of Greenwoods Legal ‘offers a range of services and can cover a number of areas from both a commercial and employment law perspective‘. The firm supports supporting individuals and businesses in the agricultural sector in succession planning, strategic growth, Brexit issues and employment matters. Employment partner Stephanie Wilcox leads the practice following the departure of Emily Pumfrey to HCR Hewitsons. Wilcox is backed up by property partner Samantha East and, in Cambridge, wealth preservation partner Clare Harris. Peterborough-based employment partner Keith Williams is ‘very approachable and responsive, and he considers a situation from a commercial perspective as well as a legal one‘.

Practice head(s):

Stephanie Wilcox

Other key lawyers:

Clare Harris; Samantha East; Keith Williams


‘The practice offers a range of services and can cover a number of areas from both a commercial and employment law perspective.’

‘My dealings with the practice are in the main with Keith Williams, employment partner. I find Keith very approachable and responsive. Keith is also able to consider a situation from a commercial perspective as well as a legal one and he provides an all rounded response to a given situation.’

Spire Solicitors LLP

Spire Solicitors LLP is ‘always very quick to respond and provides a very personal service‘, and clients note that it has ‘a very clear desire to work for your best interests‘. The firm has an extensive office network across Norfolk and its agriculture practice delivers a broad range of private client, property and litigation services to farming clients. Its work encompasses agricultural land transactions, tenancies, sporting rights and licenses, as well as special practice areas in the form of renewable energy, telecommunications and agri-environmental issues. Carl Heywood in Attleborough leads the practice, bringing to bear his experience in commercial and residential property matters, wills, probate and lasting powers of attorney.

Practice head(s):

Carl Heywood


‘Always very quick to respond and a very personal service.’

‘A very clear desire to work for your best interests.’