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Agriculture and estates in North


A range of agribusiness clients turn to Burnetts, as do financial institutions, due to its specialist expertise in secured lending on land and agribusiness assets. Practice heads Joanne McKenzie and Richard Miller are both property law experts; the former is recognised as a specialist in agricultural tenancy matters, while the latter handles sale and purchase of farms, and assists with strategic planning. Areas of growth for the firm include advising on issues concerning mines and minerals, and assisting with renewable energy projects.

Practice head(s):

Joanne McKenzie; Richard Miller


‘Nothing was too much trouble – they kept me informed regularly and were very professional.’

‘Joanne McKenzie has done quite a bit of work for us and has advised us well. Answered our queries promptly and always returned our phone calls within the same day. Would recommend her to our farming friends.’

‘The team are all very personable and down to earth. They communicate in a sound, practical way. They are very knowledgeable. The firm has invested heavily in new offices and technology.’

‘Richard Miller is the person we deal with and he stands out as exceptional. He is a standard setter and is admired by the team.’

Work highlights

  • Advising and negotiating on behalf of a landlord client in respect of farms let under different unwritten and contested Agricultural Holdings Act tenancies.
  • Advising the purchaser on a multi-million pound portfolio of farm purchases.
  • Acting in conjunction with the dispute resolution team on a farming partnership dispute following the death of a partner, and advising on subsequent agricultural matters.

Cartmell Shepherd

Under the leadership of Jonathan Carroll, the team at Cartmell Shepherd continues to be noted for its expertise in tenancy matters, particularly those governed by the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986; the group has latterly been dealing with a number of complex and contested succession cases. Mark Jackson is the practice's key contact for sale and purchase work, and regularly advises on transactions relating to farms, estates, forestry and complex rural residential property. Katherine Pretswell-Walker, whose regular workload includes assisting with mineral and sporting rights issues, overage and clawback agreements and options for renewable energy projects, is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Carroll

Other key lawyers:

Mark Jackson; Katherine Pretswell-Walker


‘Very professional. Very good level of service. Experts in agricultural property matters.’


Key clients

Persimmon PLC

Carlisle Diocese

Earl of Derby

The Official Solicitor & Public Trustee

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP fields a number of seasoned practitioners, whom one client describes as 'the go-to people for high value and complex matters'. The team's 'depth of knowledge and experience across the field of farming and landowning is remarkable', and means the group is well placed to 'meet the needs of a sophisticated and varied client base', which includes private landlords and public authorities. The firm regularly oversees rural and commercial sales and acquisitions, handles tenancy matters, and assists with estate management work, as well as advising on issues surrounding mineral reserves. Practice head Simon Kirkup and managing associate Charlotte Patterson-Ryan are the key contacts.

Practice head(s):

Simon Kirkup

Other key lawyers:

Charlotte Patterson-Ryan


‘Wide range of experience and skill sets allowing a ‘joined up’ approach to the diverse range of problems encountered by traditional rural estates in the modern era.’

‘I work a lot with Charlotte Patterson-Ryan. Charlotte stands out because she shows cast iron dedication to meeting her clients’ needs, and combines this with an efficient, common-sense approach and a desire to problem solve. Knowledge of the law is a given among solicitors (or at least it should be) but Charlotte stands out from her peers because she combines thorough legal understanding with a real appreciation for the human drivers behind the work she is doing. The client comes first and Charlotte weighs up the client dynamic very well.’

‘The other member of the team I work with is Simon Kirkup. Simon is the recognised specialist within the region for complex rural property law, and skilfully combines non-contentious property advice with a much wider understanding of the legal and commercial environment that his clients operate within. This ability to shift from being the technical specialist to the person who can appreciate the broader strategic situation is what makes Simon a respected professional.’

‘The depth of knowledge and experience across the field of farming and landowning is remarkable, as is the breadth of the firm’s contacts with individual expertise. Two mergers/acquisitions within the last few years have increased, rather than diluted, the firm’s capabilities.’

‘A diverse team of experts who deal with the immediate matter in hand but are also aware of the bigger picture and identify all aspects and “knock on effects” of the project. They are innovative and draw on the expertise of other in-house teams when necessary.’

‘My principal contact is with Simon Kirkup, who has handled his roles with dedication to his clients’ interests, with great attention to detail and with his exceptional experience of the practice as well as the law of land management.’

‘Charlotte Patterson-Ryan gives concise advice with a willingness to make a firm recommendation where others would tend to hedge their answers.’

‘They meet the needs of a sophisticated and varied client base, and are the go-to people for high value and complex matters. Their strength is in the combined years of experience in the team and they are clearly comfortable operating at the top of the professional services market.’

‘Simon Kirkup is the partner who deals with all our business . He is thoroughly professional and gives us the very best advice.’

Key clients

National Trust

Grainger PLC

Church Commissioners

English Heritage

Hay & Kilner

Hay & Kilner's offering was recently strengthened by the arrival of Joanne Milne, formerly of Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP; she brings significant experience of advising on rural and agricultural property issues - including the sale and purchase of farms, tenancy matters and complex first registrations. Milne joins an established group which also fields respected practice head Alison Hall and disputes expert Lucy Gray, the latter of whom handles the full range of contentious work that can arise in relation to rural affairs and landed estates.

Practice head(s):

Alison Hall

Other key lawyers:

Joanne Milne; Lucy Gray


‘I always find the team at Hay and Kilner very approachable, practical and understanding.’

‘I work closely on projects with Alison Hall and Joanne Milne, they are so practical and helpful to both me and the client. They put themselves in the clients’ shoes and come up with great solutions that help the client.’

Work highlights

  • Advised R Brewis and Partners on its acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Fordell Farms, including 50 hectares of arable land to the west of Belford, Northumberland.

Latimer Hinks Solicitors

Latimer Hinks Solicitors fields seasoned specialists in areas ranging from succession planning to leasing of mineral rights, sales and purchases of farms and agricultural land, and renewable energy projects. The core team members are Elizabeth Armstrong, who focuses on administration of estates and trusts where agricultural land is involved, and Adam Wood, an acquisition and disposal expert who also has experience dealing with mineral related options and leases, development contracts, promotion agreements and rural investments.

Practice head(s):

Elizabeth Armstrong; Adam Wood


‘Latimer Hinks understands that their agricultural clients need a combination of cutting edge advice, pragmatism, and the empathy to manage client emotions and areas of conflict. They absolutely delivered on this for us and we never doubted they would, given their approach.’

‘We found Elizabeth Armstrong to be very strong in this area of law and in agriculture more generally. She has an exceptional and up to date understanding of what is required to help us move through challenging times. She exercises her professionalism with an empathetic and pragmatic approach and we valued how she worked so well with our other advisors (in accountancy and land agency) – we see her as an important part of this advisory team.’

Sintons LLP

Estate and agricultural tenancy work is the key focus of practice head Tom Wills at Sintons LLP. Recently, the team has advised on the acquisition and disposal of large farming ventures, agricultural holdings and significant development projects, as well as assisting with the the registration of portfolios of mines and minerals. The group has also been instructed by a number of coal and wind farm sites in the North East; Paul Liddle is the key contact for developers and landowners in the energy, waste and renewables sectors.

Practice head(s):

Tom Wills

Other key lawyers:

Paul Liddle

Key clients

John Robert Jackson – Jackson Family

Cairns Family

Darlington Football Club

Lintz Hall Farm Limited

Morpeth Football Club

HJ Banks & Company Limited

Suez Recycling and Recovery UK Ltd

Lord Ravensworth / Ravensworth Estate

Storey Family

Crossman Estate

Work highlights

  • Advised the Jackson family on the sale of a large parcel of land which was sold for £2-5m, including estimated overage.
  • Advised the Cairns family on a large sale of agricultural land to the NHS.
  • Advising Darlington Football Club on their proposed stadium move.

Gibson & Co Solicitors Ltd

Gibson & Co Solicitors Ltd is a family-run firm which operates from two offices in Hexham, Northumberland, and Newcastle. A number of the key partners, including Derwent Gibson, are able to draw on their own experience as farming life to tackle the most pressing issues for clients. Much of the firm’s work focuses on transactional and property matters, acting for both estates and private individuals. Property specialist Harry Chrisp, also himself a farmer, is a founder of the annual Northern Farming Conference.

Practice head(s):

Derwent Gibson

Other key lawyers:

Harry Chrisp


‘The staff at Gibson & Co are personable, approachable and knowledgeable.’

‘Harry Chrisp is always available to his clients and helps steer them through complex transactions using understandable language.  He and his team are proactive in guiding clients through the conveyancing process on transactions both large and small.’

Muckle LLP

In April 2020, Muckle LLP‘s agricultural offering joined with the firm’s private client team to form a new agriculture, estates and private client department, allowing an even stronger collaboration between the two specialisms. In other recent developments, the group welcomed Kathryn Boyd, formerly of BHP Law; she brings her experience of handling complex first registrations, high value property sales and purchases and estate management issues to the practice. Practice head David Towns and recommended associate Elizabeth Earle are the other key names to note.

Practice head(s):

David Towns

Other key lawyers:

Elizabeth Earle; Kathryn Boyd


‘The team we worked with demonstrate a very can-do attitude and deliver extremely prompt service and represent value. We have worked closely with David Towns and Kathryn Boyd. Muckle, through David Towns’ experience in particular, have a very good grasp of some unusual land law principles.’

‘Elizabeth Earle is very capable, commercially aware and a pragmatic problem solver.’




Key clients

Allendale Estates

Church Commissioners for England

Lonsdale Settled Estates

Chatsworth Trustees

Muncaster Estate

Banks Property Limited

Boughton Estates Limited (part of Buccleuch Group)

Naworth Castle Estate

The Lees Court Estate, Kent

Work highlights

  • Advised a longstanding commercial client on the sale of a country house and farming estate, in a deal worth approximately £14m.
  • Advised a large landed estate on a £2.5m refinance and inter-trust loan, secured on complex, agricultural property subject to Settled Land Act settlements.
  • Managed the legal arrangements for a new spring-fed water supply pipe system for a landed estate client, including the drafting of a deed of easement from over 15 grantors to serve more than 15 individual properties.

Ward Hadaway LLP

Ward Hadaway is home to a number of dedicated specialists from various key departments within the firm, who are well placed to assist private landowners, farmers, banks operating in the sector and other rural businesses. Alex Cox and Stefan Bainbridge are key contacts for property work, with the former focusing particularly on transactional issues while the latter has extensive experience in relation to the exploitation of mineral reserves. Highly respected practitioner Andrew Facer takes the lead on succession planning matters.

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Facer; Stefan Bainbridge; Alex Cox

Key clients

The Banks Group

Barclays Bank plc

Canal & River Trust

Land Trust

University of Newcastle

Northumberland National Park Authority