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Who Represents Who

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Boodle Hatfield LLP's team has national reach across Oxford and London and acts for a number of wealthy individuals and landowners as well acting for more than 80 landed estates. Key figures include the ‘very knowledgeable and expert’ Simon Rylatt and the ‘legendary’ Sue Laing. Saskia Arthur  heads the residential property team and routinely advises high-net-worth individuals and landowners on their estate management, tenancy issues and sporting rights as well as on their asset protection and the effective devolution of their estates. Fiona Graham has particular expertise in advising on tax, trust and succession matters for landed estates and UK trusts and family businesses. Highlights included acting for a UK investor in a significant estate purchase of a mixed-use agricultural estate comprising land, residential and commercial buildings. The estate is located in an interesting area with very specific title issues and potential long term issues about access to the estate. The team also advised a well-known philanthropist on the purchase of shares in an offshore company where the underlying asset was a country estate which included a substantial listed mansion.

The ‘excellent and knowledgeable’ Simon Pring  is a key member of the ‘personable and proactive’ team at Farrer & Co . Pring has a ‘particularly good knowledge of mineral rights’. The group is praised for ‘dealing with matters on a pragmatic basis and for not always looking to the professional fees first when giving advice’. The ‘prompt and articulate’ Edmund Fetherston-Dilke  is ‘one of the most talented lawyers around; his advice is concise, practical and helpful’. Other key figures include Paul Krafft, who routinely advises private, charitable and institutional clients on agricultural and rural matters, and James Maxwell, who is known for his work on matters such as landlord and tenant issues, renewables and sporting rights, in addition to rights of access. Highlights included acting for a longstanding client in connection with its purchase of a farm in the Yorkshire Wolds for £2.9m. The purchase was notable for the fact that it included a large wind turbine that was valued at £900,000 which was acquired through a trading subsidiary - this resulted in a number of complex tax issues. In another significant matter it has been advising an institutional client on proposals for a major glasshouse development in a horticultural development area near Chichester.

Forsters LLP  has a ‘first-class agriculture and estates team that deals with queries promptly and efficiently’. Key members of the team include Rupert Mead  and Andrew Lane; Lane has extensive experience advising on capital taxation and succession issues for the owners of landed estates. Team head Penny Elliott  and ‘exceptionally brilliant’ senior associate Charlotte Brackley  are ‘particularly good at dealing with all agricultural and rural conveyancing issues’. Other members of the ‘top-quality team’ include the ‘exceptionally brilliant’ Catherine Hill, who has been advising a significant number of landed estates on myriad complex estate planning matters. The team boasts a sophisticated client base which includes a mix of traditional landowners, ultra-high-net-worth individuals and, increasingly, overseas investors and purchasers. Christopher Findlay and Henry Cecil joined in October from Bircham Dyson Bell.

Withers LLP fields a ‘highly responsive team that is professional and gives advice in a way that is easy to understand’. Bertie Hoskyns-Abrahall  and newly promoted partner Edward Jarron attracts praise for its ‘formidable range of expertise and experience in all areas of rural estate law’. The ‘sensible and capable’ Matthew Woods  is also recommended. The team advises 130 landed estates across England and Wales and is recommended for its ability to advise on all aspects of rural property transactions including transactional advice such as VAT and stamp duty land tax. The group also receives a steady flow of instructions from overseas clients who are entering the rural UK property market for the first time. Newly promoted partner Claire Harris is adept at advising owners of UK landed estates and rural property on tax and succession issues which impact on families. Harris also advises trustees where the principal asset is land. Christopher Groves  acts for the Spencer-Churchill family and Blenheim Palace Estates. Groves also advises farmers and landowners on the structuring of their businesses to mitigate inheritance tax and on the sale of land for development purposes.

Burges Salmon LLP  ‘has a long tradition of working in this area', and acts for a wide range of clients, from institutions to private individuals. Tom Hewitt leads the food and farming team and Alastair Morrison is particularly skilled on the transactional side. Hewitt has ‘many years of experience of dealing with complex sales and purchases in a very efficient way’. Jim Aveline  advises a number of farms and landed estates on tax, estates and succession issues. Sian Edmunds acts for various agribusinesses and Kevin Kennedy has a particular focus on agricultural tenancy advice, real property disputes, trust-related disputes as well as contract and tort claims. Emma Folkes leads on a diverse range of transactions involving rural land for institutional investors, registered charities and high-net-worth individuals. The ‘very impressive’ group acts for major clients such as the National Trust, the Crown Estate, the John Lewis Partnership as well as the Defence Infrastructure Organisation.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP  has a large team that advises clients across its three UK offices on all aspects of agricultural and rural estates matters. It often advises on the terms of old trusts (including Settled Land Act settlements) where the trustees own farmland and rural estates. The ‘exceptional and reassuring’ Bart Peerless  heads the private client division and adopts a ‘pragmatic approach to solving problems’. Christopher Page  heads the rural business and landed estate sector. The team is recommended for its work in succession planning both in terms of tax mitigation and at ensuring that estates pass down the generations as intended. The department also works closely with the firm’s trust litigation team. Thomas Morän regularly acts for UK and foreign clients on the acquisition and disposal of agricultural property and James Bradford is recommended for his advice on various matters such as tax and succession issues that affect rural estates. Christian Massey  has considerable experience of handling a wide range of issues for landed estates. He is also well regarded for his work on agricultural and country house property transactions.

At Hunters incorporating May, May & Merrimans Peter Robinson  and James Vernor-Miles  are key contacts. The team advises on a wide range of contentious and non-contentious agricultural and landed estates matters and acts for approximately 90 estates stretching from Cornwall to Scotland. These estates range in size from houses with amenity land to large landed estates of several thousands of hectares often with diverse interests such as tenanted farms, residential units, commercial operations as well as renewable energy and historic rights. Highlights included advising a landowning family in Suffolk on a conditional agreement for the sale of a site for development. On this matter there was a separate overage agreement and the sale was also complicated by the fact that it was a joint sale by the firm’s client and another adjoining landowner. The team co-ordinated the drafting and negotiation of the documents between the firm’s client and the co-seller and the buyer. The ‘extremely able and thorough’ Jonathan Godwin-Austen  advises a broad range of landowners and specialises in trust, estate and tax law in addition to the preservation, management, enhancement and devolution of capital wealth.

At Macfarlanes LLP department head Tristan Ward and Michael Ranson  provide a ‘Rolls-Royce service in terms of their comprehensive advice to UHNW clients’. Clients range from international and British business people, pension funds and life assurers to traditional country estates. Highlights included advising Pilgrim’s Pride on its $1.3bn acquisition of Moy Park (a poultry business) from JBS, its Brazilian owners, which involved undertaking a due diligence exercise in relation to the company’s extensive UK agricultural land holdings and production facilities which were held both as freehold and leasehold land.

Mills & Reeve LLP attracts praise for its ‘high level of technical expertise, practical and common sense advice, excellent industry knowledge and good value for money’. The ‘very well-respected, efficient and experienced’ Michael Aubrey  is recommended along with the ‘excellent’ Tim Ryan, who is ‘very good on property and development work’. Aubrey has a ‘very affable manner and is extremely knowledgeable across an extraordinary breadth of legal disciplines’. Senior associate Matthew Hesketh  is ‘very diligent, is an excellent listener and communicates well’. The ‘very professional’ team has considerable agribusiness sector knowledge and acts for several of the landowning Cambridge and Oxford colleges as well as various pension funds, numerous prestigious landed estates and many substantial national farming businesses such as Greenyard and Farmcare. Other clients include The Wellcome Trust, Barclays Bank and Christ Church Oxford.

Payne Hicks Beach  acts for the owners of over 50 landed estates varying in size from 750 acres to well over 30,000 acres and is increasingly advising on farming business reorganisations and succession planning work in addition to undertaking a substantial amount of agricultural development work. Practice head Alastair Murdie  is recommended along with Robert Brodrick  who acts for both trustees and owners of landed estates primarily advising on tax and estate planning. Rosamond McDowell ’s practice spans contentious and non-contentious advisory, estate planning, trust and probate work. McDowell provides ‘sound and accessible advice and always goes the extra mile for her clients’. The group advises on the full array of matters from sophisticated tax matters such as maximising agricultural property relief and entrepreneurs’ relief to advising on protecting farmers from trespass and the use of alternative energy schemes and diversification.

Luke Callaghan (senior counsel) is a key contact at Taylor Wessing LLP and provides specialist advice on a myriad of property issues that affect the firm’s landed estates clients. The ‘very commercial and very impressive’ Andrew Hine is  experienced in the areas of probate, succession and wills particularly where there are multi-jurisdictional assets and heritage property. Recent highlights include advising an ultra-high-net-worth individual on the acquisition of a traditional sporting estate that surrounds its property.

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Legal Developments in London 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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