Agriculture and estates in London

Boodle Hatfield LLP

Through its offices in London and Oxford, Boodle Hatfield LLP is skilled at handling large-scale rural conveyancing and acts for some of the biggest estates in the country. The team under the leadership of Saskia Arthur and Andrea Zavos acts for over 80 landed estates and regularly assists wealthy individuals investing in landed estates, country houses and farms. In addition, the group frequently acts as trustee for a number of key estates. The practice is continuing to develop an excellent reputation for its work with young entrepreneurial heirs and owners of landed estates who are setting up new business ventures, and is known for its advice on art collections, wine, renewable energy and intensive farming projects. It has also received an increasing number of instructions on inheritance tax issues, as well as advising major estates on tax mitigation and the management of significant capital tax charges. Other names to note include Sue Laing and Fiona Graham.

Practice head(s):

Saskia Arthur; Andrea Zavos

Other key lawyers:

Sue Laing; Fiona Graham

Testimonials

The team always provides pragmatic and clear advice with a commercial focus. The response time is always exceptional and the lawyers all make complex transactions straightforward

Saskia Arthur provides clear, definitive advice to clients, identifying issues and finding solutions. She is always available to ensure that transactions take place as smoothly and efficiently as possible

‘The team at Boodle Hatfield fully understands the nuances of agricultural and rural estate property, which is vital in advising clients and enabling transactions to take place. There are fewer firms now who have this capability and Boodle Hatfield stands out as one’

Burges Salmon LLP

Burges Salmon LLP has a leading practice that continues to act for many of the largest and most important institutional landowners, estates and agri-businesses nationally on a variety of complex matters. The department advises clients on the full range of agricultural and estate matters, from the sale and purchase of agricultural property and substantial landed estates through to advising on estate management, subsidies and tenancy issues. Other core strengths include advising on rural development and the various opportunities that arise out of renewable energy schemes; planning and environment issues; and tax and succession planning. Tom Hewitt heads the strong team, which includes Jim Aveline, who advises a significant number of diversified farms and landed estates on their tax, estate and succession issues, and Ross Simpson, who was promoted to the partnership.

Practice head(s):

Tom Hewitt

Testimonials

Excellent partner engagement with the work and highly skilled associates. Sian Edmunds is a particular star: she really gets to grips with the client’s needs

The lawyers have a good understanding of complicated farming partnership disputes and some complex agricultural tenancy succession claims. Sian Edmunds has a real depth of understanding of the complexities of agricultural disputes. She always manages to navigate a way through the issues to find a commercial and pragmatic solution. You definitely want her fighting your corner

Responsive, dynamic, utterly focused on the end game (and how to get there), proactive, first-class knowledge of complex and recent changes to agricultural law, young, personable, energised and engaging team, first-class communication

Burges Salmon is able to provide a full service with specialist practitioners who have a firm understanding of agriculture, rural estates and private client needs. Jim Aveline is a first-class lead partner able to give sage advice and direct specific issues to the best member of the wider Burges Salmon team

Kevin Kennedy is an outstanding litigator who, rare amongst his peers, is keen to avoid going to court where possible and will exhaust all alternative options

‘Emma Folkes is very approachable, with a positive, can-do attitude

Ross Simpson was very competent and professional. He provided prompt and helpful advice throughout a difficult sale process involving an agricultural tenancy. His attention to detail is exemplary

Maddie Dunn is an excellent associate in the litigation team’

‘Alastair Morrison is an excellent property partner

Key clients

Wellcome Trust

The Crown Estate

National Trust

John Lewis Partnership/Waitrose

HSBC

Environment Agency

Defence Infrastructure Organisation

South Yorkshire Pensions Authority

The Woodland Trust

Yeo Valley

Work highlights

  • Advising the trustees of a landed estate on a £200m-plus development site, including obtaining vacant possession of a key part of the development jigsaw.
  • Advising a landowning peer on his plans to gift a land that was part of the ancestral estate to his son.
  • Defending a high-profile robotic milker manufacturer against various claims, including that the robot milkers were defective.

Farrer & Co

Farrer & Co has a large team with 'real strength and depth' that advises landowning institutions, substantial estates, rural businesses and individual landowners. It acts for some of the UK’s largest and most high-profile institutional and private clients in this area, advising on some of the most significant transactions and development schemes in the market. The team led by Simon Pring has considerable expertise in a wide range of areas, from the sale and purchase of agricultural estates and substantial country houses, to the exploitation of sporting and mineral rights and rural development by way of renewable energy schemes and public rights of way. Other niche areas of expertise include village green applications and manorial rights. Edmund Fetherston-Dilke advises a number of major estates on complex issues. Paul Krafft assists private, charity and institutional clients with all aspects of their agricultural and rural matters, while James Maxwell is particularly skilled at advising on mineral rights.

Practice head(s):

Simon Pring

Testimonials

‘Farrer and Co is a market leader in providing proactive, client-first advice. The lawyers are solution finders and provide clear, concise advice and get to the heart of the issue quickly

A truly unique team of individuals – together unbeatable and alone outstanding. Always my legal team of choice. Edmund Featherston-Dilke is a joy to work with, makes law fun and understandable, and always wants the best for his clients

The team is very commercial and there is no attempt to bluster when the answer is not known – everything is honest and kept simple. James Maxwell is an impeccable operator – his attention to detail combined with his knowledge, experience and calm approach provides an easy working relationship

Farrer & Co continues to be excellent in this area’

Very good knowledge and quick responses’

‘Edmund is at the top of his game and is well respected within the industry. Tom Kirkman puts the client first and while robust with the opposition is able to find solutions. He has the emotional intelligence to bring people around to a position in his clients’ favour

‘A very strong presence in the specialist minerals and waste sector. Great fun to work with. James Maxwell has a very engaging approach. He is hugely intelligent and very detailed in his approach, but with a view to getting the deal done

Patrick Hammond is able to communicate and explain complicated issues, unravel problems and put forward suggestions in a pragmatic, diplomatic and easily understood way’

Key clients

Duchy of Lancaster

Duchy of Cornwall

Church Commissioners for England

Burghley House Preservation Trust Limited

Crown Estate

Work highlights

  • Advised the purchaser on a £150m rural land transaction involving thousands of acres of agricultural land across several counties.
  • Acted for a family on the negotiation of an option agreement for circa 9,000 new homes.
  • Acted for the trustees of a private estate on the sale of a prestigious grouse moor.

Forsters LLP

At Forsters LLP, Henry Cecil leads a large specialist team that advises institutional and individual landowners and groups of landowners on a wide range of matters. The team covers the full spectrum of issues from capital tax and succession planning to planning and development projects and the preservation of heritage property. Other key areas of focus include the establishment of holding structures for family wealth, as well as farm business tenancies and the drafting and administration of trusts. Christopher Findley has a broad practice and is particularly adept at reviewing estate and farming partnership structures for tax and generational planning. Andrew Lane has a particular focus on capital taxation and succession issues for the owners of landed estates. Rupert Mead is known for the drafting and administration of wills, trusts and powers of attorney, and Penny Elliott acts for a range of clients, from overseas investors to landed estates and institutional property owners.

Practice head(s):

Henry Cecil

Withers LLP

Bertie Hoskyns-Abrahall and Matthew Woods lead the department at Withers LLP, which acts for over 130 landed estates across England and Wales. The team is regularly instructed by clients entering the rural UK property market for the first time, as well as acting for a number of clients who are resident or domiciled abroad or have married spouses from overseas. The group is well placed to advise on complex cross-border planning issues and all aspects of rural transactions, including transactional tax matters. Hoskyns-Abrahall focuses on advising landowners and estates on a wide variety of management and succession matters, such as sporting, agricultural and commercial issues. Woods is a key member of the private client and tax team and concentrates on advising farms and landed estates.

Other key lawyers:

Edward Jarron; Christopher Groves

Testimonials

Strength and depth is the key to the Withers agricultural team. Whoever you speak to in the pecking order, they are almost certainly very bright, well informed, up to date with current legislation and on the ball

‘Bertie Hoskyns-Abrahall and Ed Jarron are the standout members of the team from my point of view. They have an uncanny knack of answering the telephone every time I call them and the usual decisive and informed response is guaranteed

A very responsive team with in-house competence and experience that is second to none. Bertie Hoskyns-Abrahall has not only demonstrated outstanding professional qualities but also a very subtle way of managing the relationship with each of the estate owners

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

Henry Fea leads the team at Charles Russell Speechlys LLP, which represents some of the UK’s most substantial landed estates through its offices in Cheltenham, London and Guildford. The multi-disciplinary group advises on the full spectrum of issues, from tax and estate planning on land sales and transfers to providing agricultural advice to land agents in relation to farms and rural businesses. In addition, the team advises families that own estates on matters such as family law and the ownership of heritage assets as well as valuable art work. Fea assists the owners of rural businesses and landed estates with diverse matters such as heritage property taxation and the administration of complex estates. Bart Peerless is known for his advice to individuals, trustees and beneficiaries based both in the UK and abroad on succession and estate planning matters. Tristram van Lawick was promoted to the partnership.

Practice head(s):

Henry Fea

Testimonials

Has the capability and expertise to handle most requirements of high or ultra-high-net-worth clients both personally and commercially and the teams ensure that deals remain on timetable and solutions to problems are created

Christian Massey is an expert in the country house, farm and estate market. He is proactive, responsive and thorough. Importantly, he is personable with clients and provides measured advice

Christian Massey is a commercial deal rainmaker

Excellent technical knowledge, personable and the ability to engage clients on their terms and not lose them in the law

Personable, extremely knowledgeable and excellent lawyers. James Bradford is extremely able

Nigel Edge is very impressive, with a big intellect and very good drafting skills, and excellent on detail’

‘Alex Caton has a methodical, cerebral approach focused on the best results for clients

London presence with a local connection. First-class client care

Hunters Law LLP

Hunters Law LLP fields an experienced team that advises on a wide range of contentious and non-contentious matters for rural and agricultural businesses and properties. It acts for approximately 90 landed estates, which include a mixture of tenanted and ‘in hand’ farms spread across the UK, a number of which have heritage properties or houses that are open to the public. Other core strengths include advising on fine arts and chattels in country houses, as well as having considerable expertise in areas as diverse as trust and tax planning, family and matrimonial law, and development and planning issues. The practice is skilled at advising on the preservation of family businesses through the creation of family trusts and asset ownership structures. Lucinda Tite and Peter Robinson co-lead the department. Other key members of the group include Alexandra SarkisJames Vernor-Miles and 'meticulous' senior associate Jonathan Thompson.

Practice head(s):

Peter Robinson; Lucinda Tite

Testimonials

‘The lawyers have got all aspects of rural law covered, with experienced leaders and a team of very knowledgeable and capable solicitors. Peter Robinson is unfazed by complex legal issues, and keeps the client and other advisers updated with easy-to-follow advice

When advice and help is required it is available immediately and on a very personal basis. This style of relationship is provided at partner and associate level

Jonathan Thompson was very pleasant, polite and very quickly understood exactly what was required. He handled it all tactfully and efficiently, dealing with any issues or complications and effectively laying out the options, but clearly working with my best interests as central

Jonathan Thompson is legally meticulous. He has worked diligently

 ‘Hunters handled the deal extremely efficiently, The process went very smoothly with all issues clearly explained in layman’s English, with the options, where appropriate, explained clearly with pros and cons laid out

In my experience, those who have been responsible for my family, dating back well over 50 years, have all been immensely friendly and helpful, and that tradition has been carried on with the present-day partnership. I would particularly draw attention to Jonathan Thompson

Mills & Reeve LLP

Mills & Reeve LLP has a large and specialist agricultural team that has a national reach. In addition to its traditional farming clients, it also acts for several of the landowning Cambridge and Oxford colleges, several pension funds, numerous prestigious landed estates and many substantial national farming businesses. Well-regarded practice co-heads Michael Aubrey and Amanda Tagg are both based in Cambridge. Aubrey is a key member of the firm’s food and agribusiness practice, while Tagg has considerable expertise in dealing with matters relating to agricultural land diversification. Norwich-based practice co-head Tim Ryan advises numerous traditional estates and landowners, as well as colleges and corporate entities.

Practice head(s):

Michael Aubrey; Tim Ryan; Amanda Tagg

Testimonials

The firm has a wide range of expertise to manage challenging and often time-critical requests. The lawyers communicate very well, and are clear in how to resolve problems and issues – confirming what can and can’t be done. They bring in additional support early when its needed

The lawyers actively monitor and chase down outstanding information from parties that are slow in providing the necessary supporting information. They are very good at pulling apart a problem and finding solutions to resolve it

Key clients

Barclays Bank Plc

Strutt and Parker Farms Limited

John Innes Foundation

Christ Church Oxford

Trinity College Cambridge

Greenyard

Farmcare

The Countryside Restoration Trust

Albanwise Limited

Northumbrian Water

Work highlights

  • Advised Strutt & Parker (Farms) Limited on the legal aspects of a sale to Robigus.
  • Advised TOF Corporate Trustee on the sale of Cotton Farm.
  • Advised De Weide Blik NV on the property aspects of the sale of Greenyard Flowers UK Limited.

Payne Hicks Beach

Under the direction of Simon Blackburn, the team at Payne Hicks Beach works with the owners of over 50 landed estates and numerous country houses, varying in size from a few acres to well over 30,000 acres, many of which include houses and grounds that are open to the public. The team handles a broad array of matters, including the buying and selling of farmland and country houses across England and Wales. The group is also rated for its advice on diversification and development schemes, such as alternative energy schemes, and other areas of expertise include advising on the protection of mineral rights. Robert Brodrick is recommended for his advice to trustees and owners of landed estates on tax and estate planning.

Practice head(s):

Simon Blackburn

Testimonials

James Bacon has a remarkable blend of technical expertise and understanding combined with an ease with his clients. He rightly generates complete faith, while never losing sight of the need to communicate and understand

Very personal and high-level service with direct access to the senior team. Quick responses and good advice. Robert Brodrick is always available, understands his clients and offers considered and grounded advice in all aspects of estate planning, calling in specialists when required’

‘Payne Hicks Beach offers a bespoke and tailored service which is designed to meet the specific needs of the clients. It is an understated practice offering excellent service and advice. The lawyers have the utmost respect for their clients and seek to provide the service that the individual client needs and requires

‘Rosamond McDowell provides an excellent service and truly tailors the advice to the needs of the family as a whole and also as individuals. Rosamond will put the needs of the clients first when and if there is an issue that needs immediate attention

There is strength in depth across a range of disciplines. The lawyers are able to advise and deal with all aspects of landed estate work, incorporating private client, trust, agricultural, commercial, tax and property work streams. Their experience and understanding of the interplay of these elements, combined with strong individual skills, instils confidence in the advice. They perform well on the transactional elements too

Basil Dixon and Venetia Taylor are a balanced team. Individually competent, personable, accessible and committed to the task, they have proven resilient under the time pressure of deadlines