Agriculture and estates in East Midlands

HCR Hewitsons

The 'incredibly approachable' Northampton team at HCR Hewitsons advises farmers, estate owners and rural property holders, working in tandem with a wider team of colleagues in Cambridge. Clients include some of the largest landowners in the UK; the firm advises on multimillion-pound sales and purchases, as well as tenancies, succession, finance and tax issues. Recent work has also focused on advising clients on restructuring their businesses in response to Brexit. Denise Wilkinson leads the agriculture and rural affairs from Cambridge; in Northampton, key team members include 'first-rate' head of agriculture property Gareth Williams, who draws on his strong connections in the sector to advise on complex property transactions; legal director Stephanie Dennis and associate Rachel Smith.

Practice head(s):

Gareth Williams

Other key lawyers:

Stephanie Dennis; Rachel Smith; Helen Deady

Testimonials

‘A very balanced team, which uses the capabilities of all and brings in the relevant expertise as necessary.’

‘Gareth Williams is first-rate – he is far-thinking as to potential problems and not afraid to advise.’

‘Stephanie Dennis is extremely competent.’

‘The team have been actively involved in building professional relationships with our firm, and are incredibly approachable as a whole.’

‘Helen Deady is very friendly and helpful. All of my experiences with Helen have been incredibly positive, with prompt communication at all times. When I have had to ask Helen for assistance, she has been able to explain the issues that have arisen in an appropriate matter for my level of understanding. ’

‘Stephanie Dennis is very responsive to any enquiries and provides practical advice for clients on tenancy matters.’

‘Stephanie Dennis has always been very professional and helpful.’

‘Helen Deady is excellent at communication and responds to queries in a very prompt manner. She is thorough in her work and we feel assured that she will provide us with good advice.’

Key clients

Lord Rothschild (Waddesdon Estate)

Lord Northampton (Compton Estates)

Arbury Estate

Merton College, Oxford

Nigel Davis Solicitors

Nigel Davis Solicitors is a boutique law firm that is highly specialised in  all matters relating to rural and agricultural affairs. The firm advises on property transactions, including development advice and residential conveyancing, estate planning, wills, trusts and probate, sporting rights, and regulatory defence work. Matthew Elias, Liz Power and Vito Berzanskis jointly head the team and have specialisms in partnership agreements, proprietary estoppel claims and agricultural tenancies and succession applications relating to the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 respectively. Jacqui Mann and Oliver Wilson are further key contacts who are experienced in boundary disputes, equestrian issues and equitable tracing.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Elias; Liz Power; Vito Berzanskis

Other key lawyers:

Jacqui Mann; Oliver Wilson

Testimonials

‘Nigel Davis Solicitors is a diverse and highly professional practice, providing experienced land advice. They are easy to use and always roll up their sleeves to help, even in challenging situations’

‘Liz Power is diplomatically skilled in dispute resolution and problem solving. She has a tough skin and is an effective protector of her clients’ rights.’

‘Matthew Elias is our personal solicitor and has been able to advise on both business and family matters. He has been approachable and able to address any issues; if clarification is needed he does not hesitate to approach other members of the firm. We have full confidence in the service that Matthew is providing.’

‘Oliver Wilson has an ability for concise analysis and setting out a position in a clear and understandable way, whilst being suitably forceful.’

‘Vito Berzanskis and Liz Power both offer high levels of service and insight, and provide practical, client focused advice that is both understood and valued by clients. Both are readily available and conscientious in their approach to delivering the work required, and explain risk and uncertainty clearly to present clients with readily understood options. I have no hesitation in recommending them.’

‘Liz Power and Jacqui Mann have peerless client management skills, blending empathy with astute insight.’

‘A good tight team with bags of experience.’

‘Oliver Wilson easily wins the confidence of farmers – looks and sounds the part. His affability hides a determined litigator.’

Key clients

ISJ Farming

Whitehouse Construction Co Ltd

McClure Timber Supplies Ltd

Greenwood Forest Products UK Ltd

New Mills Town Council

Roythornes Solicitors

Roythornes Solicitors continues to be a key legal resource for agricultural clients across the East Midlands and further afield, such as farm businesses, estates and professional referrers. The firm acts across the country on matters such as assistance with reviews of farm and estate structures, transactions, environmental measures and more. Simeon Disley is highly experienced in the legal aspects of ownership of land adjacent to the coast line and has a niche specialism in flood defence matters. Julie Robinson has a focus on matters relating to farm succession planning post Brexit. Edd Johnson and Emma Hill are recommended, while Claire Hindmarsh recently made partner.

Practice head(s):

Simeon Disley; Julie Robinson

Other key lawyers:

Edd Johnson; Emma Hill; Claire Hindmarsh

Key clients

Kedleston Estate

Revesby Estate

Countryside Alliance

The De Lisle Family Fund

Woodland Trust

Work highlights

  • Carried out the purchase of farmland at pace on behalf of a farming partnership, together with a £9m re-financing, secured against land owned by partners and associated third parties and spanning 11 registered titles. Timescales on the re-financing were tight in order to meet the farmland purchase deadline.
  • Advised on the purchase of the freehold of unregistered farmland, buildings and farmhouse by a sitting tenant and associated parties.
  • Acted for the landlord in the grant of a long-term farm business tenancy over approx. 300 acres of agricultural land coupled with a pre-emption agreement giving the tenant the right of first refusal to purchase the holding if the landlord expressed an intention to sell all or part of it during the term.

Wilkin Chapman LLP

Wilkin Chapman LLP combines a specialist agricultural property practice with the skills and expertise of further departments, such as family, dispute resolution, corporate and employment, to service its agricultural clients in a manner ‘appropriate to practical farming businesses‘. The team has specialist knowledge of flood defence, advises on diversification, including tourism and livestock business ventures, and assist in joint ventures relating to solar parks and more. Catherine Harris heads the team and specialises in large-scale transactions, agricultural tenancies, riparian ownership and environmental schemes, setting ‘the bar for other individuals to beat‘. James Lloyd and Flora Bennett are other key contacts.

Practice head(s):

Catherine Harris

Other key lawyers:

James Lloyd; Flora Bennett

Testimonials

‘Their technical knowledge of the agriculture & landed estates sector is almost unrivalled.’

‘Catherine Harris leads from the front, sets the example. She sets the bar for other individuals to beat.’

‘Range of services appropriate to practical farming businesses.’

‘Good working knowledge and realistic approach to achieve objectives.’

Browne Jacobson LLP

Browne Jacobson LLP services a mix of private and public sector clients, assisting with any type of service required by agricultural clients. This includes dispute resolution, tax advice, public law advice and commercial services. The team takes 'a practical and commercial stance on legal issues' and has particular expertise in property development and strategic land transactions. Robert Wofinden acts for developers, charities and landed and commercial estates owners. Lucy Worwood has a focus on advising on trusts. Mark Lewis is noted for his 'very proactive and communicative' approach. Georgina Euden is a further key contact. Ben Standing recently made partner.

Practice head(s):

Robert Wofinden; Lucy Worwood

Other key lawyers:

Mark Lewis; Georgina Euden; Ben Standing

Testimonials

‘The firm look to take a practical and commercial stance on legal issues, understanding that there is often more than one right way to do things.’

‘Mark Lewis is always very proactive and communicative, which ensures that issues are discussed promptly and transactions run smoothly, even when unforeseen matters arise.’

Key clients

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust

Aggregate Industries UK Limited

The National Trust

Environment Agency

Natural England

Homes England

Peak District National Park Authority

Natural Resources Body for Wales

British Trust for Ornithology

Welsh Government

Northern Ireland Ombudsman

Marine Management Organisation [Environment]

Belvoir Estate

Work highlights

  • Acted for Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust on its acquisition of the freehold of the Attenborough Nature Reserve from CEMEX following a successful fundraising appeal and a £750k grant from Biffa Award. The acquisition required specialist planning and environmental advice.
  • Act for the Welsh Government in relation to an appeal of a remediation notice.
  • Instructed by a public body to negotiate a licence to locate animals in transit at an agricultural centre in preparation for potential Brexit disruptions.

Flint Bishop LLP

The agricultural team at Flint Bishop LLP advises agricultural clients and landowners as well as landed estates, tenants, trustees, charities and agricultural businesses 'with an excellent attitude and attention to detail'. Clients are offered a broad array of services relating to tax, estate and succession planning, business tenancies, the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 and diversification. In litigation, clients are represented in boundary disputes, nuisance claims, contractual disputes and matters revolving around contentious probate. Practice head Paul Sabin 'is always supportive, concise and instructive in his dealings' and specialises in farm and estate transactions.

Practice head(s):

Paul Sabin

Testimonials

‘Paul Sabin is always supportive, concise and instructive in his dealings with us.’

‘Large company which covers all legal aspects under one roof with an excellent attitude and attention to detail. Second to none.’

‘The team are quick to respond to enquiries.’

‘Flint Bishop’s communication is exceptional and this for me is key at the current time – calls and emails are always responded to and dealt with in a timely manner. More complex sales methods such as tenders and auctions of rural properties with separate lots are also an area where this company has shown good support to ourselves and our mutual client.’

‘Whatever is required, I can always rely on Paul Sabin at Flint Bishop to assist. Whether its a site visit with a mutual client, an office meeting or phone call or e-mail, all requests are accommodated and sound advice is provided. The plain speaking is a real benefit for myself of Paul Sabin – he will lay matters out in simple terms that are understood to the mutual client and myself alike to enable informed decisions to be made. I cannot recommend the services of Paul Sabin enough – he has been a pleasure to work with.’

Work highlights

  • Acted on behalf of the executors in the administration of a farming estate worth £1.3m that includes a farmhouse, land (including agricultural land), commercial premises and a farming partnership.
  • Acted on the sale of the freehold property on a farm estate, including a farmhouse, land and a holiday letting for a total value of c.£1.5m.
  • Acted for one of the UK’s largest independent, family-owned livestock and speciality feed manufacturers in a complex, high-value nuisance claim.