Next Generation Partners

Agriculture and estates in North


The agribusiness practice at Burnetts is led from Carlisle by Joanne McKenzie, working in tandem with chairperson and property head Richard Miller. Key areas of work for the team, which regularly handles multimillion-pound matters, include banking & finance, farm sales and other agricultural property transactions, enewables and related private client services such as tax planning and family matters. Other key team members include legal director Diane Barnes, who has a specialism in mining and minerals, and senior associate Megan Richardson.

Practice head(s):

Joanne McKenzie; Richard Miller

Other key lawyers:

Diane Barnes; Megan Richardson


‘The firm is knowledgeable in the agriculture sector.’

Work highlights

  • Acting and advising on behalf of the seller in multi-million-pound sale of estate property.
  • Acting in conjunction with the dispute resolution and wills, trust & probate teams in respect of the property and business aspects of holisitic estate planning work.
  • Advising and negotiating on behalf of a landlord client in respect of Agricultural Holdings Act matters.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP's Newcastle-based agriculture practice is headed by landed estates expert Simon Kirkup who continues to act as a trustee for landowning families and advising investors on acquisitions. The team boasts an extensive client portfolio, acting for the North’s most significant landowners as well as for several public authorities and quasi-public bodies. Andrew Farquharson handles rural property aspects and regularly acts in the sale and purchase of large estates, farms and sporting estates, with notable expertise in acting for landowners in the grant of options and leases to renewable energy operators. Managing associate Ellen Rutherford focuses on Agricultural Holdings Act tenancies and disputes.

Practice head(s):

Simon Kirkup

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Farquharson; Ellen Rutherford

Key clients

National Trust

Grainger PLC

Church Commissioners

English Heritage

Womble Bond Dickinson (Trust Corporation) Limited

Work highlights

  • Appointed as a neutral independent trustee of a number of family trusts which together own an £8m agricultural holding in Yorkshire.

Cartmell Shepherd

Most notably known for its expertise in tenancy matters, particularly under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986, the Carlisle-based team at Cartmell Shepherd also acts in complex and contentious agricultural matters, including high-value purchases. Drawing upon the expertise of the firm’s private client, employment and commercial teams, the group is adept to provide comprehensive advice to its diverse client base. While practice head Jonathan Carroll handles contentious and non-contentious agriculture and rural property matters, Mark Jackson focuses on the sales and acquisitions of estates, farms, and forestry. Sale and acquisition expert Katherine Pretswell-Walker also acts in the ownership of mines and minerals.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Carroll

Other key lawyers:

Mark Jackson; Katherine Pretswell-Walker; Holly Berwick; Emma Blamire


‘Jonathan Carrrol, Mark Jackson and Katherine Pretswell- Walker and the team inspire confidence with their detailed knowledge and commercial, pragmatic approach.’

‘In-depth knowledge and experience and no-nonsense style but friendly and easy to deal with at the same time. All highly regarded with good reason.’

‘Excellent agricultural knowledge and very efficient.’

Hay & Kilner

Hay & Kilner‘s Newcastle-based team provides advice to farming and rural businesses on agricultural matters and is led by Alison Hall who has particular expertise in landed estates, such as advising on succession to farms and drafting farming partnership agreements and is most notably known for her advice on eligibility for relief from inheritance tax. Richard Marshall handles estates and succession planning matters. Sophie Fletcher joined from Watson Woodhouse in August 2022 and works closely with sales and purchasing expert Joanne Milne on implementing succession planning strategies for farming families.

Practice head(s):

Alison Hall

Other key lawyers:

Joanne Milne; Richard Marshall


‘Very personable and knowledgeable with a down to earth and common-sense approach to matters.’

Latimer Hinks Solicitors

Since January 2023, Gillian Ibbotson heads up the Darlington-based team at Latimer Hinks Solicitors, which offers comprehensive advice across the sector including inter alia sales and purchases, charging and letting of farms, estate management, agricultural tenancies, renewable energy and storage schemes, sporting and fishing rights. The strong team includes two ALA fellows, Ibbotson and Adam Wood who focuses on rural property transactions as well as Daniel Williams and associate Rachel Fletcher who deals with conditional contracts and is experienced in renewables. Elizabeth Armstrong contributes her expertise in succession and growth planning.

Practice head(s):

Gillian Ibbotson

Other key lawyers:

Elizabeth Armstrong; Adam Wood; Daniel Williams; Rachel Fletcher

Sintons LLP

Agricultural specialist and ALA fellow Tom Wills heads up the Newcastle-based team at Sintons LLP, advising a diverse client base in estate work, agricultural tenancies, the sale and purchase of woodland, farm holdings, land and water rights. Paul Liddle is a key practitioner in the energy, waste and renewables sectors. Contentious probate and trusts specialist Emma Saunders advises rural clients and farming families and acts in Court of Protection disputes. Rising star Sam Watts has developed a specialism in rights of way and easement issues as well as in private water supply and sewage arrangements.

Practice head(s):

Tom Wills

Other key lawyers:

Emma Saunders; Sam Watts; Paul Liddle


‘An efficient team under good governance who work in a timely manner with good value for money.’

‘A very personal approach to advice without being too corporate.’

‘Knowledge, expertise and advise are excellent, as well as friendliness but remaining professional.’

Key clients

Suez Recycling

Embleton Parish Council

The Lambton Estate

Darlington Football Club

Bowes Manor Equestrian Centre

HJ Banks & Company Limited

Cussins Home Limited

Lord Ravensworth / Ravensworth Estate

Meadowcroft Homes Limited

Guyzance Hall Estate Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for Embleton Parish Council in the acquisition of Embleton Quarry, including complex provisions linking all three parcels of land together and granting and reserving necessary rights.
  • Continuing to act for Lord Ravensworth, currently working for the Ravensworth Estate handling a new partnership agreement, declarations of trust, telecommunications mast leases and disputes.

Gibson & Co Solicitors Ltd

Gibson & Co Solicitors Ltd’s Hexham-based agriculture team attracts a broad client base ranging from high net worth farms, estates, agricultural businesses and individuals to smaller tenant farmers. Led by Harry Chrisp, the team provides specialised agricultural and commercial property advice and undertakes contentious work for private wealth clients. Chartered Legal Executive Suzanne Forster specialises in residential conveyancing transactions, acting for individuals, companies and lenders.

Practice head(s):

Harry Chrisp

Other key lawyers:

Suzanne Forster; Derwent Gibson; Michael Macgregor


‘A reliable rural practice with a very sound knowledge of agricultural law.’

‘I deal with Derwent Gibson, Michael Macgregor and Harry Chrisp all of whom have a secure grasp of any problem that may need to be handled in a rural practice particularly agricultural law.’

‘Personal attention and always responsive to all communications’

Key clients

North East Grains Limited

Work highlights

  • Represented a private individual in his claim (proprietary estoppel) to inherit the family farm after a lifetime of working for a wage described during the case as “pocket money”.

Muckle LLP

Rural property expert David Towns heads up the growing and dynamic team at Muckle LLP with particular focus on landed estate management, sporting rights and minerals rights. The team stands out for adopting ‘a hands on/’muddy boots’ approach’ and is praised for being ‘approachable and immensely capable – quickly reactive.’ Thanks to the group’s commercial offering, they are able to provide holistic advice to their diverse client base drawing on employment, real estate and financial expertise. Charlotte Patterson-Ryan and new additions Rachel Stephenson and Tim Boardman, who joined from Burnetts in summer 2022 add significant strength to the group who is adept in handling complex high-value matters.

Practice head(s):

David Towns

Other key lawyers:

Rachael Stephenson; Tim Boardman; Charlotte Patterson-Ryan


‘Charlotte Patterson-Ryan is exceptionally efficient and is able to drive deals and meet tight deadlines. Her pragmatism and practical approach are stand out qualities in addition to her technical knowledge.’

‘The team at Muckle LLP stand out because they adopt a hands on/’muddy boots’ approach with face to face meetings and on site visits. They are responsive and proactive. They want to understand what they are dealing with and be able to provide clear and focused advice specific to the job in hand. This makes my job as an agent much easier and instills confidence in my clients who like their pragmatic and commercial attitude.

I use Muckle for general rural and commercial property matters: sales/purchases; landlord and tenant; disputes; taxation; trusts. In respect of minerals and associated property matters, I believe Muckle are unrivalled in dealing with: first registration; landlord and tenant for operational mining/quarrying; disputes requiring both legal and commercial remedies.’

‘David Towns is a brilliant mind. I rely with regularity on David’s responsive and proactive approach to finding a pragmatic solution efficiently. He has the ability to distil down complex legal issues and present solutions in a very human way. My clients view David as a genuine and trusted adviser.’

‘A competent, professional, commercial and friendly team who clearly work well together.’

‘Approachable and immensely capable – quickly reactive’

‘Very good expertise in the Landed Estate Sector and a drive for good , prompt service and an enthusiasm to deliver solutions.’

‘Speed of response and an ability to organise themselves within the team so that there is case familiarity between more than one professional acting which is useful when working with wider teams from our side.’

Key clients

Allendale Estates

Church Commissioners for England

Lonsdale Settled Estates

Chatsworth Trustees/Duke of Devonshire

Muncaster Estate

Banks Property Limited

Boughton Estates Limited (part of Buccleuch Group)

Naworth Castle Estate

The Lees Court Estate, Kent

Viscount Lowther’s Trust

Ward Hadaway LLP

The Newcastle-based agriculture team at Ward Hadaway LLP understands the needs of private landowners, farmers, rural businesses, and banks operating in the sector. Thanks to rural property experts Stefan Bainbridge and Alex Cox who jointly head the team, the group has particular expertise in the sale and purchase of rural land, farms, estates, woodlands and country houses. Other key practice areas include estate management, planning and development, environmental issues, waste and energy schemes.

Practice head(s):

Stefan Bainbridge; Alex Cox

Key clients

The Banks Group

Barclays Bank plc

Canal & River Trust

Land Trust

University of Newcastle

Northumberland National Park Authority

Newcastle International Airport Limited