Agriculture and estates in North West

Aaron & Partners LLP

Led by Simon Ellis, Aaron & Partners LLP specialises in acting for partners and shareholders in farming and other agriculture-related businesses in partnership and shareholder disputes, as well as handling succession planning issues, basic payment scheme entitlements, agri-environment agreements, and sales and purchases of land and farms. The team also has a track record in agreements for the development of land for mineral exploitation, waste management, and renewable energy projects. Other names to note are David Harries and Shrewsbury-based associate Ben Brassington.

Practice head(s):

Simon Ellis

Other key lawyers:

David Harries; Ben Brassington

Key clients

Dŵr Cymru Cyfyngedig (Welsh Water)

Mostyn Estates

Denbighshire County Council

Chester Zoo

Chester Diocesan Board of Finance

John Holford Charity

Work highlights

  • Advising Dŵr Cymru Cyfyngedig (Welsh Water) on the proposed extension of water treatment works involving the development of common land just outside the Snowdonia National Park.
  • Advising The North of England Zoological Society (Chester Zoo) on the purchase of farmhouse outbuildings and land formerly held by the local council as part of its small holdings estate as extension to land in adjoining ownership.
  • Advising the John Holford Charity on mineral rights for sand extraction over the charity’s farm land in East Cheshire.

Brabners LLP

Jointly headed by Liverpool-based Rupert Jackson and Preston-based Charles Hansford, Brabners LLP’ team assists some of the UK's largest landowners with a variety of matters. Key areas of strength include the sale and purchase of farms and agricultural land, succession issues, agricultural litigation, tax and financial planning work, and employment and pensions mandates. Jackson, who is 'a truly high-class partner', acts for headline clients with combined assets in excess of £2bn, while mines and minerals expert Hansford has a client roster including the largest landowner in Scotland. Another name to note is legal director Hannah Carter.

Practice head(s):

Rupert Jackson; Charles Hansford

Other key lawyers:

Helen Ryan; Hannah Carter

Testimonials

‘Responsive and proactive team processing complex issues positively. Looking after the interests of clients and seeking cost-effective solutions. Very clear about their personal movements and times of their availability. Concerns dealt with at the earliest opportunity, you are never left waiting for responses and actions. Wide range of knowledge and experience.’ 

‘Rupert Jackson leads by example, setting the highest standards and always deals speedily and effectively with the issues you pose. A truly high-class partner.’

Key clients

Associated British Foods plc

Peel Holdings plc

SED Recycling Limited

British Sugar Plc

AB Agri Limited

ABF Grain Products Limited

ABF Properties Limited

CNP Property (Wirral) Limited

T J Morris Limited

Countyroute (A130) plc

Work highlights

  • Advised a retail store owner on the purchase of several parcels of land subject to existing tenancies and subsequent leaseback, put in place a contract farming agreement over the remainder, and handled complicated title and contract farming arrangements.
  • Advised a private company on the drafting, negotiation and completion of an option agreement and with the ultimate exercise of the option with a subsequent purchase of a former bridleway.
  • Advised a private individual on the purchase of various parcels of land in order to develop them for a subsequent sale.

Butcher & Barlow LLP

Receiving instructions from agricultural and rural enterprises from across Lancashire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Shropshire and North Wales, the Chesire team at Butcher & Barlow LLP handles a variety of matters in this space. It has particular expertise in advising landowners on the sale of agricultural land for residential development, business structure reviews, succession planning issues and the administration of substantial farming estates. The team, headed by Mike Bracegirdle, who has an 'unrivalled expert knowledge of all things agriculture', is also instructed by both landed estates and landowning charities regarding agricultural holding tenancies and farm business tenancies.

Practice head(s):

Mike Bracegirdle

Other key lawyers:

Graham Gigg

Testimonials

‘There is a spread of specialisms within the firm and the firm has efficiency in dealing with issues. Prompt response to e-mails and correspondence and in-depth knowledge of the subject matter of the particular case in hand.’ 

‘It is unusual for a law firm still to be a family business in its fourth generation. This is a great asset compared with most other firms. The team is very stable because of this.’

‘Mike Bracegirdle has an unrivalled expert knowledge of all things agriculture. He comes from a farming background too.’

‘Butcher & Barlow are an approachable firm of solicitors. They understand their clients’ objectives, and advocate on that basis.’

‘Graham Gigg is very well known in the agricultural sector and is considered to be a trusted adviser. He is extremely approachable and has a great depth of knowledge of the law.’

‘We have used Butcher & Barlow on various projects from property sales and purchases, legal disputes and personal cases, they work very well as a team and always bounce suggestions off other colleagues, they can keep to tight deadlines when needed and are normally available out of hours which is very rare in this industry.’ 

‘Mike Bracegirdle has a wide range of knowledge of the agricultural and rural property sector; he is very well known in the area and always has a solution to a problem.’ 

‘Mike Bracegirdle is very professional and knowledgeable in his field, and offers a very personal service.’ 

‘You are confident from the first conversation you have with a member of their team that they understand your requirements and will deliver a first-class service that can often exceed your expectation.’ 

‘Mike Bracegirdle has been not only our solicitor, but also a mentor and a huge support during what has been a trying time over a number of years. He has personal knowledge of the farming life and its peculiar challenges and has been able to advise us with a wide appreciation of our situation and needs for now and the future.’ 

‘Mike Bracegirdle is very approachable, with an good attitude, but does not compromise on detail. Never any doubt that he is working in the best way for me as a client.’

Key clients

Booth Charities

Work highlights

  • Acting for an agricultural engineering business which had purchased a farm via tender, including negotiating heads of terms and dealing with complex land issues.
  • Acting for two family clients in relation to the sale of an inherited smallholding and advising in relation to a complex overage agreement.
  • Advised the trustees of the Booth Charities on the purchase of land subject to a number of title issues, including a registered disclaimed lease, historic rights of ways, and an Agricultural Holdings Act tenancy which the property is subject to.

Myerson Solicitors LLP

Drawing expertise from lawyers in the firm's family, commercial property, corporate commercial, wills, trusts and probate and construction departments, Myerson Solicitors LLP’s agriculture practice is instructed on a wide range of matters. It acts for rural clients and high-net-worth individuals across matters relating to agriculture businesses, disputes over lease renewals, estate administrations, and family disputes involving farm land. Real estate specialist Mark Gillies, family practice head Jane Tenquist, and real estate department head Joanne Perritt act on agriculture-related matters.

Practice head(s):

Mark Gillies; Jane Tenquist

Other key lawyers:

Joanne Perritt

Testimonials

‘Myerson has become a strong regional player and offers the services of a city centre firm, but from a suburban environment. They now cover many legal disciplines and provide a quality all-round legal service.’ 

‘Our primary contact is Jo Perrett, with whom we have worked for our farmer and landowner clients. Jo heads a strong team which is willing to get on with matters and bring them to a conclusion.’ 

Napthens LLP

Splitting his time between Kendal and Blackburn, agricultural specialist Andrew Holden heads up the dedicated rural practice at Napthens LLP, which comprises five full-time fee earners who handle the full spectrum of farm, land, property, business, and estate planning matters. With a variety of new clients, the team, which clients say has 'an instinctive understanding of the issues that inform rural property and businesses transactions', collaborates closely with the firm's litigation, employment and wills and estate planning departments. Associate James Stocker is also noted for his expertise in rural matters.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Holden

Testimonials

‘Strong agriculture team. You can trust their in-depth knowledge of complex matters specific to agriculture.’ 

‘Napthens are a multi-faculty team who are always willing to help and go that extra mile. I have referred clients to them and also used them personally for a complex matter. The rural team especially provide clear concise advice in a timely manner.’

‘Andrew Holden, James Stocker, Diane France and Melissa Haigh are all agricultural lawyers whom I use on a day to day basis. Andrew is extremely knowledgeable on agricultural law and development, I deal with James, Melissa and Diane on property conveyance and they have been excellent in all of these, they are knowledgeable on complicated clawback negotiations.’ 

‘I have found this Agriculture and Estate practice outstanding working with James Stocker. Everything I could wish for in terms of initial and on going contact with James and support staff has been easy, relaxed and reassuring. One thing that stands out is the feeling of understanding coming from someone with a clear knowledge and experience of animal and land issues.’

‘As specialists, the Napthens Rural team have an instinctive understanding of the issues that inform rural property and businesses transactions. They know the potential pitfalls and how to avoid them, leading to the client getting the best advice and outcome possible, with the minimum of disturbance, worry and delay.’

‘Andrew Holden stands out for his vast experience of rural property matters gained over the course of a career specialising in this type of work. His ability to use this experience to resolve complex issues, combined with natural efficiency and amiability, make him a pleasure to work with, and a valuable professional resource to call on.’

Key clients

NFU

Farmers Guardian Legal Hub

HSBC

Yorkshire Bank

DTM Legal LLP

DTM Legal LLP's team advises high-net-worth individuals and landowners on estate management work, tenancy issues, and sales and purchases of farm businesses, land and buildings. The team, spearheaded by Paul Makison and Stephen Lunt , also acts for a number of wind farms, gas storage facilities and infrastructure developers on securing the appropriate agreements with land agents. Amanda  Bailey, who heads up the firm’s trusts and estates team, made partner in 2019, and acts on several agriculture-related matters.

Practice head(s):

Paul Makison; Stephen Lunt

Other key lawyers:

Amanda Bailey

Key clients

E A Reed & Sons

T W Kinsey

Kronospan

ADAS (part of RSK Group)

Cheshire Young Farmers

W Fair and Son

Work highlights

  • Advising a farming partnership on succession planning including the capital gains tax and inheritance tax implications of the prospective sale of land for the development of roughly 500 houses.
  • Handled estate and planning issues for a farming family owning 1000 acres including detailed tax advice on succession planning strategies.

SAS Daniels LLP

Chester-based James Goddard and Congleton-based Helen Gowin jointly head  up SAS Daniels LLP’s team, which handles agriculture and estates matters, focusing on the sale and purchase of agricultural land and rural property, as well as tenancies, promotion agreements and renewable energy schemes. Working as part of the firm’s private client department, it acts for farmers and landed estates, with experience acting in divorce and litigation matters.

Practice head(s):

James Goddard; Helen Gowin

Testimonials

‘The team has a comprehensive range of skillsets that are appropriate for my personal and business interests. The accessibility of the partners permits the building of relationships that are very important in transactions that need to be ongoing now and into the future.’ 

‘James Goddard is always available when needed and understands the inter-family connections that are important. As time goes on he is becoming integral to our future planning.’

Temple Heelis

Led by Peter Dodd, the private client team at Temple Heelis has experience advising on the purchase, sale and financial restructuring of agricultural land, agricultural tenancies, and land law issues including rights of way and drainage agreements. Working from its offices in Windermere, Ambleside and Kendal, the team also acts for farmers, providing tax and succession planning advice to families, especially in relation to agricultural relief.

Practice head(s):

Peter Dodd

Other key lawyers:

James Hamilton; Lauren Bowness

Testimonials

‘Temple Heelis punches well above its size and weight in this sector. They have an impressive list of clients and provide first-class advice and services. In the niche sector of agriculture, they are ahead of the curve in knowledge and understanding of a client’s particular demands.’ 

‘Peter Dodd is a stand out among the competition, heads and shoulders above others in the local market. He is a strong lawyer, with a good tactical commercial brain and a great deal of commercial experience.’ 

‘James Hamilton’s responses have always been clear and well explained in plain English with a friendly manner.’ 

‘Peter Dodd is a well-regarded lawyer who attracts quality instructions invaluable matters. He is complemented by Jamie Hamilton, the Managing Partner, and up and coming newly qualified private client solicitor, Lauren Bowness.’ 

‘The practice has a long local history. It knows its clientele and their specific needs. It acts quickly and informs the client of the issues involved, not something which always happens in this profession. The practice has a broad base of expertise bearing in mind that it operates in a rural community. I consider that it compares favourably with other practices locally.’ 

‘Peter Dodd has good legal and local knowledge plus a great skill of being able to explain the complicated in a simple understandable way.’ 

Work highlights

  • Advised an independent scientific organisation and registered charity on the sale of a property, handling issues including fishing rights, areas of special scientific interest, a fish counter and laboratories.
  • Advised on the sale of a large country residence in the Lake District comprised of three different leasehold titles, which included a lake jetty. Advised in relation to the National Trust Act 1907, the transfer of a lake encroachment agreement and an option agreement.