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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > London > Private client > Agriculture and estates > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. Agriculture and estates
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

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Boodle Hatfield LLP fields β€˜a highly knowledgeable and experienced team that provides clear and comprehensive advice as quickly as required’. The β€˜wise and collegiate’ Sue Laing is β€˜technically very sharp’; Simon Rylatt β€˜does not get flustered under pressure, and has a calming influence on his clients’; Fiona Graham β€˜always completes her work even on the most complex and protracted matters in a swift and efficient way’; and Saskia Arthur is β€˜highly regarded by her loyal following of clients. Her knowledge of this field is unrivalled, as is her dedication to her clients, their needs and objectives’. At senior associate level, Kirsty Ions, on the property side, is β€˜very practical, knowledgeable and thorough’; and Eleanor Sepanski is β€˜well versed’ in all aspects of onshore UK tax, private client and trust work. The β€˜simply outstanding’ team is based across London and Oxford and has a national presence, and continues to advise high-net-worth individuals and landowners in relation to estate management matters, tenancy issues, and farming and sporting rights in addition to asset protection and the effective devolution of assets. It acts for over 80 landed estates including four of the UK’s largest ten, and counts Bedford Estates among its key clients. The β€˜thorough and fantastic’ group regularly assists wealthy individuals investing in landed estates, country houses and farms, and acts as trustee for a number of key estates. Other major clients include Wates Group and family, and the Radnor/Folkestone estates.

Simon Pring heads a large and β€˜excellent’ team at Farrer & Co which provides β€˜timely and pragmatic advice that is always focused on achieving the best outcome for the client’, and β€˜always treats its clients with the utmost respect’. Pring is β€˜outstanding’ for his work in the areas of urban/village fringe development and the exploitation of mineral rights. Paul Krafft has β€˜unparalleled knowledge of a broad range of issues, and has an amazing ability to provide concise and practical advice’. James Maxwell is β€˜exceptional for all aspects of agricultural work’, and Edmund Fetherston-Dilke has a well-established reputation for his work on the sale and purchase of major estates. Among a number of talented associates, Thomas Kirkman provides β€˜a superb service on farm disposals and acquisitions’, and the β€˜impressive’ Katy Tydeman handles a wide range of rural property matters. The team had a busy year advising on some of the largest and most complex sales and purchases of agricultural land and estates in the UK market, and continues to attract a steady flow of instructions from some of the UK’s largest and highest-profile institutional and private clients. Highlights included acting for a very substantial estate in Lincolnshire in relation to the grant of a 40-year lease to a leading mineral operator for limestone extraction. It also continues to act for longstanding client the Church Commissioners of England on a broad range of matters, recently advising on the purchase of a large farm in Middlesex for over Β£6.3m.

Forsters LLP is β€˜one of the leading London firms that provides a bespoke and prompt service to the owners of agricultural estates and farms’. Penny Elliott heads β€˜a strong team able to deal with a wide range of property issues’, and Catherine Hill provides β€˜high-level strategic tax planning and trust advice’. Andrew Lane, who is β€˜at the top of his game’, advises individuals, families and trusts on a diverse range of legal, commercial and personal issues, and has a focus on capital taxation and succession issues for the owners of landed estates. Rupert Mead is experienced in the preservation of heritage property and its exemption from tax, and acts as a trustee for a number of significant estates in England and Wales. The team is β€˜technically excellent and has very good client skills’, and acts for a mix of traditional landowning families, ultra-high-net-worth individuals and, increasingly, overseas investors and purchasers.

Bertie Hoskyns-Abrahall and the β€˜exceptional’ Matthew Woods co-lead a β€˜very strong and thorough’ team at Withers LLP, which is β€˜consistently excellent’, has a number of β€˜standout individuals’, and is one of the β€˜market leaders for landed estates’. Christopher Groves has β€˜a wealth of experience and provides a full and comprehensive service to clients’, and on the real estate side Jeremy Wakeham is β€˜very knowledgeable’. Mainly acting for families (rather than institutions), the β€˜first-class’ team is recommended for its experience in rural property transactions, and has a diverse practice ranging from transactional tax advice such as VAT and stamp duty land tax to contentious matters, where it has considerable strength. It recently represented a purchaser in a significant contractual dispute over the terms of a contract to buy a vast rural estate. The β€˜excellent’ team acts for many major landowning families whose trusts and property interests require specialist knowledge of heritage legislation, and it is also experienced in acting for international families requiring advice on how to purchase rural property in the most tax-efficient manner.

Bircham Dyson Bell shows β€˜great attention to detail and a commitment to secure the right outcome for its clients’, and β€˜understands the importance of building up long-term relationships with its clients’. It is β€˜a key player in the private client market, and has retained its strong personal service and culture that some of the larger firms can no longer provide’; Christopher Findley is praised for his β€˜wide-ranging experience and practical advice’, and Henry Cecil for his β€˜clear, no-nonsense and pragmatic approach’. The β€˜responsive, knowledgeable and practical’ Susan Johnson is also recommended, for trusts and capital tax matters. The team has been active advising landowners on the purchase, sale and expansion of estates and significant blocks of farm and woodland. It regularly advises high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals on estate structuring and tax planning with the aim of protecting and preserving their farms and estates for future generations, and it acts for entrepreneurial clients alongside individuals who have inherited their wealth. The group has been busy advising the Country Land and Business Association on various aspects of objections to the compulsory purchase of land by HS2.

At Burges Salmon LLP, Tom Hewitt leads β€˜a highly competent team’ with a national presence. Emma Folkes is experienced in agricultural tenancy matters and in complex restructuring issues involving the surrender and re-grant of tenancies to facilitate strategic land use projects. Jim Aveline is recommended for his work on tax, trusts and estate planning. The β€˜first-rate’ Sian Edmunds is recommended for food, agriculture and agribusiness matters, and β€˜always tries to get the best for her clients’. Senior associate Peter Roberts is β€˜calm and methodical, and adopts a pragmatic approach to solving problems’, and associate Maddie Dunn is β€˜excellent’. Major clients of the practice include the National Trust, which it advises it on rural law issues across England and Wales. It has also been busy working on major estate transactions for The Crown Estate, and continues to advise the John Lewis Partnership on rural law issues in relation to the Leckford Estate (a 4,000-acre estate in Hampshire).

At Charles Russell Speechlys LLP, Christopher Page leads on rural business and landed estates work, while Bart Peerless heads the private client side; he is β€˜very knowledgeable’ and shows β€˜great attention to detail’. The team acts for a range of landed estates and ultra-high-net-worth families on a broad array of complex matters, from tax, trusts and property issues to employment and matrimonial matters, often advising on the terms of old trusts (including Settled Land Act settlements) where the trustees own farmland and rural estates, and has a focus on succession planning both in terms of tax mitigation and in terms of ensuring that estates pass down the generations as intended. The team regularly works jointly with the firm’s trust litigation group on contentious matters involving succession to rural estates.

James Vernor-Miles and Peter Robinson co-head the team at Hunters incorporating May, May & Merrimans. It acts for approximately 90 estates stretching from Cornwall to Scotland, ranging in size from houses with amenity land to large landed estates covering several thousand hectares. The team is experienced in the full gamut of issues, from matters concerning tenanted farms, residential units, commercial operations and renewable energy to development land and historic rights. Jonathan Godwin-Austen, Alexandra Sarkis and Patricia Sykes are well regarded for their work in the areas of trusts, estates and tax law. The team’s expertise includes capital raising to support landed estates, whether through the sale of extensive development land or the sale of individual properties.

Macfarlanes LLP fields β€˜a bright team that is very efficient and well respected’. Head of department Tristan Ward attracts many accolades, and is β€˜extremely calm, knowledgeable and practical (as he is a farmer himself)’. The β€˜unflappable’ Michael Ranson is β€˜highly intelligent, available and very responsive’, and senior solicitor Simon Blackburn is β€˜very thorough, patient and knowledgeable’. The team is well equipped to advise its high-net-worth clients on the full range of matters. In a recent highlight, the team was instructed by the family which owns the 1,000-acre estate surrounding Pitchford Hall to reunite the Grade 1 listed Tudor manor house with the estate, requiring advice on residential and agricultural matters, various livery arrangements for racehorses, and the return to the property of artwork which had been separated from the hall for many years.

The β€˜very experienced and efficient’ Michael Aubrey, who is based in Cambridge, heads the agribusiness practice at Mills & Reeve LLP. Other members of the β€˜strong’ team are Norwich-based Tim Ryan, who has led on many diversification projects for farmers, landowners and estate owners and is β€˜excellent at dealing with all aspects of development land agreements’. Cambridge-based Amanda Tagg is experienced in agricultural land diversification schemes, particularly development and energy projects. The team acts for a variety of prestigious landed estates and historic institutions in addition to large farming companies, pension funds, universities (including a significant number of Oxbridge colleges), energy/utility companies, and farming co-operatives. Highlights included acting for the trustee landowners of the Kirton Estate in negotiating and agreeing the terms of an option for a cabling easement (and an associated deed of grant) across a large section of the estate. Other key clients include the Wellcome Trust, The Countryside Restoration Trust and Univeg.

At Payne Hicks Beach, Alastair Murdie heads β€˜a helpful, discreet and responsive team that provides robust advice that is always right. It has a number of outstanding performers’. Murdie is β€˜a well-respected colossus in the field’; Robert Brodrick acts for trustees and owners of landed estates, primarily advising on tax and estate planning, and β€˜does not miss a trick’; and the β€˜absolutely brilliant’ James Bacon β€˜relates really well with his clients’. The β€˜responsive’ Rosamond McDowell’s covers contentious and non-contentious advisory, trust and probate work, acting for many families, agricultural landed estates, trustees and individuals. The firm β€˜represents some of the country’s most substantial landowners’, acting for over 50 landed estates on private client and property matters. It is also experienced in farming business reorganisation and succession planning issues, and is increasingly active in relation to agricultural developments. The practice includes sophisticated tax matters, such as the maximisation of agricultural property relief and entrepreneurs’ relief, the protection of farmers from trespass, and the use of alternative energy schemes and diversification.

At Taylor Wessing LLP, the β€˜excellent’ Luke Callaghan (senior counsel) provides specialist advice on property issues affecting the firm’s landed estate clients. He is experienced in residential and agricultural property matters for both UK and non-UK clients, covering freehold/leasehold property, landed estates, mineral rights, and agricultural and residential tenancies. Also recommended is Andrew Hine, for trusts work. Clients include traditional landowners and their heirs and trustees, as well as entrepreneurs and overseas and non-domiciled buyers. The group has been advising on myriad high-value and complex matters, notably acting for an ultra-high-net-worth individual on the acquisition of a traditional sporting estate which surrounds their property and includes a Grade II listed country house, numerous farm cottages which are let, and 600 acres of farm and woodland (which also includes a commercial shoot). In another highlight, the team acted for an ultra-high-net-worth Swedish family on its first acquisition of UK property; the property included a substantial country house in Gloucestershire together with gardens, lakes, farmland and common land.

At Thrings LLP, Anita Symington advises on a broad range of matters such as the sale and purchase of farms and rural estates and secured lending matters, and is well known for her work on agricultural tenancies and renewable energy projects. Clients include farmers, growers, agribusinesses and other rural enterprises, with the practice ranging from property sales and development through to tax and succession planning and advice on farm subsidies. The team acts as National Farmers Union panel solicitors for many counties across the UK.

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Legal Developments in London for Agriculture and estates

  • New β€˜ROE Bill’ draft published

    Following from the recent public outcry regarding the lack of β€˜transparency’ in the UK property market, a new β€˜ROE Bill’ draft has now been published.
    - Hudson McKenzie

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