Next Generation Partners

Rising Stars

Firms To Watch: Agriculture and estates

Keystone Law is praised for its ‘fast and efficient service’ - Samantha Leigh advises clients across the full spectrum of the rural industry.

Agriculture and estates in London

Boodle Hatfield LLP

Led by Saskia Arthur and Hayden Bailey, the ‘thorough and responsive‘ team at Boodle Hatfield LLP advises on the full range of issues from providing strategic tax advice to advising on day-to-day property matters. Across its offices in London and Guildford, it continues to act for some of the largest estates in the country and is skilled at handling the sale and purchase of valuable residential properties, farms and agricultural land. Other core areas of expertise include advising on disputes concerning the ‘modern family’ and helping clients with devolution and development issues. It continues to develop its reputation as one of the key firms for young entrepreneurial heirs and owners of landed estates who are setting up new business ventures. The team is sought after for its work with key landed estates that also have entrepreneurial businesses such as vineyards and renewable energy operations. Consultant Sue Laing and Andrea Zavos are among the other esteemed members of the group.

Practice head(s):

Saskia Arthur; Hayden Bailey

Other key lawyers:

Sue Laing; Andrea Zavos


‘Very competent landed estates practice with a rich heritage of clients. Clients stick with them for generations, and for good reason’.

‘Hayden Bailey is a brilliant partner who is technically gifted. Furthermore, he doesn’t overcomplicate projects or seek to generate unnecessary work. He takes a very pragmatic approach, putting the client first’.

‘Saskia Arthur has a wealth of experience to bring to any transaction. She is quick to get to the heart of any issue and to address it in a way and with an explanation that is easily understandable by the client. She is exceptionally commercial in all of her work’.

‘A proactive and willing team with attention to detail and a can-do attitude. Saskia Arthur and her team are diligent, professional and good communicators’.

‘Saskia Arthur is the archetypal safe pair of hands. She is willing to advise and take control and is honest, transparent and always available. Will go the extra mile to close a deal’.

‘Hayden Bailey has been a star for us over a number of years continually adding value to the work that he completes and making the billing time more of an investment than a transaction’.

‘Market leading team in the sector. Saskia Arthur is technically excellent, commercial, a market leader and never loses sight of the bigger picture.’

‘Saskia Arthur was the lead partner. She was technically good but maybe more important, level headed and took a common sense approach to matters. She certainly helped get a complicated deal through’.

Burges Salmon LLP

Burges Salmon LLP  ‘delivers a high quality of service’. The nimble team receives a steady flow of instructions from many of the largest and most significant institutional landowners, estates and agri-businesses nationally. It has immense experience in succession and wealth planning matters as well as in complex trusts, wills and probate; another core area of focus is advising on capital tax issues. The practice has many experienced practitioners including department head Tom Hewitt. Kevin Kennedy plays a key role in many high-value agricultural disputes, while Ross Simpson garners praise for his work on a wide range of matters from land reform and community rights to buy issues, to advising on Scottish agricultural holdings and crofting. Maddie Dunn has particular expertise in farming partnership and tenancy disputes, as well as the full gamut of disputes that arise from rural land ownership and equine matters. Sian Edmunds is no longer at the firm following her move to an in-house position.

Practice head(s):

Tom Hewitt

Other key lawyers:

Kevin Kennedy; Ross Simpson; Maddie Dunn; Emma Folkes


‘The rural team have excellent strength and breadth across the sector. In a changing landscape they have engaged in thought leadership which puts them apart from their competitors and much appreciated by clients. Kevin Kennedy and Emma Folkes. They both have excellent knowledge and deliver pragmatic advice in a timely fashion’.

‘Tom Hewitt is a very experienced private client practitioner with a good manner in dealing with clients and a very good understanding of what makes clients with farms and estates tick and the sort of advice which they need. He is very personable, approachable and conscientious’. 

‘Ross Simpson was very approachable, easy to communicate with, keen to move the case forward. Speed of response was exceptional, communications were clear and precise. He dealt with all matters with precision and speed, at the same time, in a pleasant manner’.

‘We have most recently worked with Ross Simpson who was highly effective, hardworking, competent and good fun to work with. He has access to knowledgeable colleagues who promptly provided technical advice on specialist issues (e.g. employment law) that arose during the sale/letting’.

‘The Burges Salmon team provide a wealth of knowledge across a number of disciplines. Of particular interest to me is their ability to undertake cross-border transactions to ensure continuity for their clients. Ross Simpson is a dynamic and pragmatic individual who works in a diligent and professional manner to deliver results for clients’.

‘Kevin Kennedy is superb. A very thoughtful, relaxed and pragmatic individual. Takes the inevitable twists and turns of litigation in his stride, with humour and common sense. Always thinking ahead to try and secure the best outcome for his client, no matter what surprises the litigation throws up’.

‘Maddie Dunn. A very able number 2 to Kevin Kennedy. Has come up through the firm, and has some seriously heavy litigation under her belt. A very dependable pair of hands’.

‘Kevin Kennedy is top-rate. He handles high-value trust matters concerning substantial property and estates. He is very easy to work with in achieving the right outcome for his clients’.

Key clients

The Crown Estate

National Trust

The Woodland Trust

Yeo Valley – including family farming business

The Leckford Estate, owned by John Lewis/Waitrose

Environment Agency

Earl of Plymouth estates

Work highlights

  • Advised the Earl of Plymouth and other trustees in the high-profile case of Earl of Plymouth v Rees. These cases ultimately involved two arbitrations, three High Court claims, and a Court of Appeal hearing, and confirmed and explained the law relating to access to tenanted land.
  • Acting for a major minority shareholder in a group of interconnected family companies. The matter, which has a number of complexities related to shares held by family trusts, involves multiple connected unfair prejudice petitions.
  • Advised a charitable foundation on the acquisition of all eight of its initial diverse and interesting sites around the British Isles covering over 15,000 acres.

Farrer & Co

Led by Simon Pring, the outstanding team at Farrer & Co has considerable expertise in this area and is praised for its ‘robust and clear advice‘. It is acknowledged as one of the leading firms in the market for its work with an array of land-owning institutions, large estates, rural businesses and individual wealthy landowners. Edmund Fetherston-Dilke is sought after for his advice on diverse matters such as rights of way, sporting rights and riparian issues. Paul Krafft advises private, charity and institutional clients on all aspects of agricultural and rural ownership, while James Maxwell specialises in the sale and purchase of rural estates and agricultural land; he is a leading name in the area of mineral rights. Senior associate Rose Gurney specialises in advising on the buying and selling of rural and mixed estates, dealing with sporting rights, tenancy matters, mineral leases and options.

Practice head(s):

Simon Pring

Other key lawyers:

Paul Krafft; James Maxwell; Edmund Fetherston-Dilke; Rose Gurney; Emily Zethraeus; Thomas Kirkman; Patrick Hammond


Farrer & Co are experts in their field and combine fantastic attention to detail with expert legal advice and we consider them to be a core part of our team. James Maxwell and Thomas Kirkman in particular will go above and beyond to be available to assist us with urgent needs and provide the best advice at all times’.

‘A highly intelligent, personable and interested set of individuals. Simon Pring – Experience and breadth as well as depth of knowledge’.

‘Emily Zethraeus is a first class solicitor, providing clear, coherent advice which is delivered in a very user-friendly manner. Emily is extremely responsive, enabling deals to be driven forwards in a timely fashion’.

‘Strength in depth. Good communication skills and very knowledgeable’.

‘Heavyweight landed estates team of the highest depth and experience. Positive attitude and ‘likeability’ which is important for a long term close working relationship’.

‘Edmund Fetherston-Dilke – one word: wow! He is simply a superlative lawyer with such a wide range of knowledge and expertise. Calm, convincing and brilliant’.

‘Great knowledge and diverse expertise across all sectors of the property legal fields’.

‘Patrick Hammond is superb, calm, helpful and thoroughly nice and professional to deal with as well as being extremely capable and knowledgeable’.

Key clients

Duchy of Lancaster

Duchy of Cornwall

Church Commissioners for England

The Crown Estate

Burghley House Preservation Trust Limited

All Souls College, Oxford

Forsters LLP

The large team at Forsters LLP has an excellent reputation in the market and is led by Henry Cecil, who has a vast array of experience in high-value acquisitions and disposals in the agricultural sector. Its sophisticated client base includes sizeable landed estates, families and trusts, private and commercial investors as well as very wealthy individuals, and institutional and landowner groups. Andrew Lane has a particular emphasis on capital taxation and succession issues for the owners of landed estates. Christopher Findley is increasingly advising on planning and development projects for farmers and landowners. Rupert Mead has a keen focus on the preservation of heritage property and its exemption from tax. Penny Elliott specialises in advising clients with multiple business interests. There have been a number of internal promotions in the practice recently - Polly Montoneri was promoted to the partnership and Robert Keylock is was promoted to counsel.

Practice head(s):

Henry Cecil

Other key lawyers:

Penny Elliott; Andrew Lane; Christopher Findley; Rupert Mead; Polly Montoneri; Robert Keylock; Adam Saunby


‘Depth of team, attention to detail and professionalism’.

‘Work to tight deadlines. Can do approach to the job’.

‘Pragmatic, friendly, communicative and knowledgeable. Henry Cecil and Adam Saunby are key names’.

Withers LLP

Bertie Hoskyns-Abrahall and Matthew Woods co-head the first-rate department at Withers LLP, which acts for over 130 landed estates across England and Wales. In addition, the team is regularly instructed by clients entering the rural UK property market for the first time. As a number of its clients are also resident or domiciled abroad, the group is well placed to advise on a myriad of trusts and cross-border planning matters. In addition to its more traditional landed estate clients, it is also increasingly advising clients who are purchasing rural land for rewilding purposes. Edward Jarron is another name to note for his work on a broad range of complex property matters in the landed estate sector as well as other areas spanning country houses, development sites and renewable projects. David Holland was promoted to the partnership; he acts for individuals, trusts and companies in connection with the acquisition and disposal of rural property.

Practice head(s):

Bertie Hoskyns-Abrahall; Matthew Woods

Other key lawyers:

Edward Jarron; David Holland


‘Great knowledge and diverse expertise across all sectors of the property legal fields’.

‘Bertie Hoskyns Abrahall, David Holland, Ed Jarron are all excellent lawyers with great knowledge, experience and skill’.

‘Very good client base and strong private client firm’.

‘Matthew Woods – calm and measured’.

‘Very strong with strategic advice’.

‘David Holland – excellent to deal with. Responsive, and refreshingly practical and balanced advice’.

‘Knowledgeable. Good communicators. Friendly. Ed Jarron and David Holland are key names’.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

Spearheaded by Bart Peerless and Henry Fea, the nimble team at Charles Russell Speechlys LLP primarily focuses on providing specialist tax and trust advice for intergenerational succession. It deals extensively with ultra-high-net-worth families and their businesses both in the UK and overseas. As well as advising on all aspects of strategic land purchases and sales, it excels in advising on issues relating to art collections and heritage properties. Another core area of expertise for the group is advising landed estates on a wide range of disputes, from high-value divorces to contentious property matters. Robert Blower specialises in all aspects of private client work and acts for many well-known estate owning families, advising on estate, tax and succession structuring issues. William Begley is also highly regarded.

Practice head(s):

Bart Peerless; Henry Fea

Other key lawyers:

Robert Blower; William Begley; Terence Bennett


Excellent technical knowledge delivered with strong commercial awareness‘.

‘Very approachable and make themselves available when they obviously have other demands on their time. Bart Peerless is very practical and commercial. Terence Bennett is great at assimilating the facts of a case and providing relevant advice’.

Michelmores LLP

The ‘commercially astute‘ team at Michelmores LLP is co-led by Ben Sharples and Vivienne Williams. Sharples excels in advising on biodiversity net gain and other issues such as nutrient neutrality, while Williams specialises in contentious agricultural work and is well respected for her advice on an array of landlord and tenant issues, farming partnerships and co-ownership disputes. The agile team draws on the expertise of its colleagues to advise on a myriad of other issues from transactional property and strategic development work, to advising clients on planning and commercial matters.

Practice head(s):

Ben Sharples; Vivienne Williams

Other key lawyers:

Charlotte Razay; Erica Williams; Adam Corbin


‘One of the leading firms in this practice area, with a number of very experienced solicitors who know a great deal about agricultural disputes’.

‘Ben Sharples: an outstandingly good solicitor, with an excellent grasp of the law and of the technical aspects of agriculture and property, and an outstanding tactician. The best there is’.

‘Michelmores is without a shadow of the doubt the most skilled, capable and impressive team of agricultural litigators and non-contentious lawyers in the country. It should be the first port of call for anyone with a rural or agricultural matter that requires specialist and high-quality advice’.

‘It occupies a market-leading position and serves all sorts of agricultural and rural business, large and small. It has a breadth of agricultural specialists that, so far as I am aware, is unrivalled by any other firm’.

‘Vivienne Williams is a leading figure in her field and in the sector nationwide. She is exceptionally focused and calm, providing clear leadership and razor-sharp insight into both legal and strategic issues. She is assisted by a range of extremely capable and able associates with deep and reassuring agricultural expertise, including Erica Williams’.

‘A leading team of highly experienced agricultural and rural affairs specialists – one of the go-to firms in this highly specialist sector. Adam Corbin – calm, authoritative and knowledgeable, Adam is an excellent choice for any complex or high value matter’.

‘Vivienne Williams – A leader in her field, second to none’.

‘Viv Williams – extremely able, easy to work with and very switched on. Charlotte Razay – future partner and experience of litigating complex disputes’.

Key clients

Forestry Commission

Clinton Devon Estates

Environment Bank Limited

Hestercombe Garden Trust Limited

Pontypool Park Estate

Nijjar Group Holdings Acton Limited

Bradford Estates

Foundation for Common Land

Avon Needs Trees

FWAG (Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group)

Work highlights

  • Acted for the defendants in the reported case of Williams v Williams and Others [2022] concerning an agricultural partnership dispute and claims in proprietary estoppel following the death of one of the partners.
  • Advised the Forestry Commission concerning the first nutrient neutrality deal to be finalised in England.
  • Advised the Foundation for Common Land in relation to two pilot projects in the New Forest and Malvern Hills AONB in the context of DEFRA’s Landscape Recovery Scheme Test and Trial projects.

Mills & Reeve LLP

Michael Aubrey heads up the department at Mills & Reeve LLP, and has considerable expertise in advising on major infrastructure and development projects as well as large-scale renewable energy schemes. The practice has a national reach and skilfully deals with the complete range of matters relating to rural land and the agribusiness sector. In addition to its traditional farming clients, it acts for several of the landowning Cambridge and Oxford colleges, several pension funds, numerous prestigious landed estates and many substantial national farming businesses. Amanda Tagg is recommended for her transactional advice to institutional landowners on all aspects of their agricultural property portfolios, and Tim Ryan also plays a pivotal role in the practice.

Practice head(s):

Michael Aubrey

Other key lawyers:

Tim Ryan; Amanda Tagg

Key clients

Oxford University Endowment Management

Work highlights

  • Acting on the acquisition of the Exning Estate in Newmarket. This multi-faceted rural estate comprises 719 hectares of commercial, residential and agricultural properties including an Equine Hospital, 155 acre solar farm and 40 residential dwellings.
  • Advising Christ Church and its JV partner on all aspects of the promotion of a 1,540 home site at Bayswater, Oxford.

Payne Hicks Beach LLP

Payne Hicks Beach LLP has a ‘great combination of high-end private client expertise and a central London location, making the agricultural practice first class‘. The nimble team works with the owners of over 50 farms, estates and country houses varying in size from 150 acres to well over 30,000 acres. Some of these estates are worth over £300m, and many of which have houses and grounds that are open to the public. Practice head Simon Blackburn advises UK and overseas clients on all aspects of managing farms, estates and country houses. Robert Brodrick acts for trustees and owners of landed estates on various tax and estate planning matters, and Rosamond McDowell advises a substantial number of landed estate owners, estate managers and trustees on a broad range of planning, trust and probate matters.

Practice head(s):

Simon Blackburn

Other key lawyers:

Robert Brodrick; Rosamond McDowell; Rupert Burchett


‘The team has evident strength in its depth of knowledge and contacts within the sector. It also can draw on highly experienced colleagues in other departments of the firm when required to give concise advice to clients’.

‘Simon Blackburn – Simon is readily available to speak to and provides excellent advice, showing an in depth knowledge of his subject. He is also very personable and down to earth which clients and other professionals quickly relate to’.

‘Quick, knowledgeable and personable. Prepared to put the work in’.

‘Simon Blackburn is as good a private client and agricultural lawyer and trusted adviser as one could hope to meet’.

‘Simon Blackburn is diligent, quick, responsive and communicates well. First to say if he is not sure about something and happy to find the answer, or right person who knows the answer’.

‘PHB is one of the few London firms with a dedicated agricultural and estate property practice’.

‘Simon Blackburn lives and breathes agricultural law but is also very commercially aware and constructive in his approach with the other side – he must be the best agricultural lawyer of his generation. Rupert Burchett is a charming and impressive associate who instils confidence’. 

‘The team are pragmatic, fast thinking, agile and most of all superbly able. I find Rupert Burchett to be incredibly client friendly, able and cuts through detail efficiently and pragmatically’.

BDB Pitmans

Under the joint leadership of Tristan Ward and Paddy Lynam, BDB Pitmans remains busy advising numerous high-net-worth individuals and high-profile British and international families on various legal issues relating to their rural property. Clients include those who have derived their wealth from rural properties as well as those who have made their wealth in other industries and wish to own rural property. Hugo Smith specialises in estate and tax planning matters with particular expertise in landed estates and heritage assets.

Practice head(s):

Tristan Ward; Paddy Lynam

Other key lawyers:

Hugo Smith


‘Great personable skills and good accessibility to partners. Clients well advised and kept up to speed. Paddy Lynam and Tristan Ward are key names’.

‘Constantly finding solutions rather than problems’.

‘Paddy Lynam is a dynamic operator in his prime. Easily contactable and seeing the bigger picture for his clients. Tristan Ward has an encyclopaedia of the minutiae and can see how they can impact on a given transaction. The ultimate duo to have in your corner’.

‘Good collaboration and a commercial outlook throughout’.

‘I have worked with Tristan Ward at BDB Pitmans. Tristan has an outstanding knowledge of landed estates and all the complexities that go with them. His technical excellence and attention to detail have been exemplary’.

‘Great knowledge and diverse expertise across all sectors of the property legal fields’.

‘Tristan Ward is extremely intelligent and thorough’.

A super responsive and “unstuffy” team. Patrick Lynam – responsive, thorough, thoughtful. On the client’s side but always sharing perspectives for what the other side might react with‘.

Key clients

The Royal Agricultural Society of England


Mansfields Farms

Moore Barlow

Sarah Jordan leads a large and experienced team at Moore Barlow, which is well placed to advise its broad client base of landed estates, farmers, private landowners and equestrian businesses on a wide range of issues. Jordan and Ed Whittington, who is another leading member of the department, are both Fellows of the Agricultural Law Association. Charlotte Brackley has recently been promoted to the partnership, and has significant transactional experience in buying and selling farms, agricultural land and country houses, and also handles agricultural secured lending and strategic refinancing matters.

Practice head(s):

Sarah Jordan

Other key lawyers:

Charlotte Brackley; Ed Whittington


‘Very friendly, well regarded agricultural specialists’.

‘Excellent regional practice on the south coast with appropriate disciplines’.

‘My assignment was handled by Charlotte Brackley. Charlotte was not only capable but user friendly, thoughtful, innovative and exuded common sense’.

‘This practice provided us with an excellent service in the recent sale of a family farm. They were able to efficiently deal with all aspects of the sale’.

‘Charlotte Brackley provided us with a prompt, responsive and efficient service. We managed to complete a complex sale within a reasonable time frame’.

‘Despite having several offices they have a very joined up approach which means that they are a good team for clients and agents to navigate when their primary contact is on leave/out of the office’.

‘Both Sarah Jordan and Charlotte Brackley are incredibly approachable. They are also not afraid of picking up the phone and asking a question if they don’t know the answer, rather than stalling the deal as some solicitors do’.

Key clients

The Cowdray Estate

The Grange Estate

Work highlights

  • Acting for The Cowdray Estate on a rural asset management landed estate retainer.
  • Acting for The Grange Hampshire LLP on a rural asset management landed estate retainer.