Agriculture and estates in North


The ‘fine-tuned team’ at Burnetts in the Carlisle office routinely handles complex, high-value work. This includes supporting clients with high-value transactions, agricultural property and tenancy issues as well as various renewable energy projects. The practice is notable for its expertise in secured lending on land and agribusiness assets. Leading the team are Joanne McKenzie, a recognized specialist in agricultural tenancy matters and ‘capable, direct, brilliant’ practitioner Richard Miller, who is also head of the property teams. Legal director Diane Barnes is an up-and-comer, who specializes in mines and mineral rights as well as agricultural tenancy matters.

Practice head(s):

Joanne McKenzie; Richard Miller

Other key lawyers:

Diane Barnes; Rachel Elliott; Megan Richardson


‘Joanne and the staff at Burnetts are very helpful and nothing to much trouble.’

‘Burnetts have moved into the 21st Century by spending a lot of money on new premises and modern branding, they have a very can do attitude and know how to treat their clients.’

‘Joanne McKenzie always seems to go the extra mile to make sure what you expect is delivered fast and efficiently. Nothing seems too much trouble for Joanne and she will pull you up if she disagrees with you and offer other options. In the last few years Joanne has for helped me buy a farm, buy extra land on different occasions, buy stints and serve notice on way leaves and negotiated compensation.’

‘Richard Miller (partner) – capable, direct, brilliant. He always has total focus on the matter in hand.

‘The team are approachable and responsive and aim to deliver a quality , informed service to help clients reach the conclusion best suited to meet their needs .’

‘I had a lot of confidence in Diane. She was very efficient and thorough and put herself out to meet deadlines.’

‘The stand out individuals were Richard Miller (Partner), Joanne McKenzie (Partner Head of Agribusiness), Rachel Elliott (Paralegal). All 3 individuals were outstanding in the effort they made, delightful interpersonal skills, quality of result and overall a complete delight to deal with.’

‘The team work very well together, seamless engaging with the client and other professionals involved to ensure a quality service is delivered at all contact points. Approachable straight forward advice to navigate even the most complex scenarios from a small but fine tuned team.’

Work highlights

  • Advising and negotiating on behalf of a landlord client in respect of Agricultural Holdings Act matters.
  • 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 work involved in implementing the agreed settlement order.

Cartmell Shepherd

The Carlisle-based practice at Cartmell Shepherd stands out for its ‘specialist, in-depth knowledge and experience’. It includes a number of significant high value purchases, moreover the team is notable for its expertise in tenancy matters, especially those governed by the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986. Practice head Jonathan Carroll has extensive experience in contentious and non-contentious agriculture and rural property matters. Mark Jackson focuses on the sales and acquisitions of estates, farms, forestry and complex rural residential property as does Katherine Pretswell-Walker , who also advises on the ownership of mines and minerals.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Carroll

Other key lawyers:

Mark Jackson; Katherine Pretswell-Walker


‘Specialist, in-depth knowledge and experience delivered in a practical and no nonsense way’

‘Cartmell Shepherd provide a team of knowledgeable, enthusiastic and easily accessible experts.’

‘Our main point of contact Cartmell Shepherd is Mark Jackson. His straightforward approach and easy accessibility makes him perfect contact when seeking legal advice. He is happy to discuss potential cases and has built up trust over many years of service. He is happy to advise off the record and has developed a very good working relationship on the broad aspect of agricultural matters.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

The client list for the Newcastle-based practice at Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP encompasses many of the most significant landowners in the region, from public authorities and quasi-public bodies such as The National Trust, to substantial private estate owners. Practice head Simon Kirkup   keeps his ‘finger on the pulse’, acting as a trustee for landowning families and advising private and commercial investors on acquisitions. Andrew Farquharson ’s expertise includes supporting landowners with options and leases to renewable energy operators. While Charlotte Patterson-Ryan   departed in November 2021, managing associate Rosanne Tweddle joined the firm in May 2021 from Latimer Hinks Solicitors , contributing expertise in agricultural tenancies.

Practice head(s):

Simon Kirkup

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Farquharson; Rosanne Tweddle


‘Specialist area – best in field in North.’

‘Very good knowledge of Agricultural estates and the legal and management issues that arise from them.’

‘Simon Kirkup, in particular, has excellent personal skills and the ability to communicate complicated issues in a straightforward way.’

‘Simon Kirkup ability to grasp a situation swiftly and spot the risks and issues is impressive and then his ability to delegate the detailed work with an eye on the commercial goal of completing the transaction.’


Key clients

National Trust

Grainger PLC

Church Commissioners

English Heritage

Hay & Kilner

Alison Hall heads up the rural team at Hay & Kilner in Newcastle, regularly advising on estate planning, particularly when it comes to succession or inheritance tax issues and steps in to act in the administration of estates. Joanne Milne is a key practitioner on the team with expertise in sales and purchases, agricultural tenancies as well as financing and refinancing arrangements. Richard Marshall is also of note, he handles a variety of private client work, such as estates and succession planning.

Practice head(s):

Alison Hall

Other key lawyers:

Joanne Milne; Richard Marshall

Latimer Hinks Solicitors

With experience that spans sales, purchases and letting of farms, estates and land, succession planning and farming partnership agreements the practice at Latimer Hinks Solicitors is praised for its ‘deep understanding of issues’ particular to agriculture. Based in Darlington, the team is led by Adam Wood who focuses on rural property transactions and Elizabeth Armstrong, her practice includes the administration of estates and trusts with agricultural aspects. Solicitor Gillian Ibbotson is a key figure who takes the lead in a variety matters.

Practice head(s):

Elizabeth Armstrong; Adam Wood

Other key lawyers:

Gillian Ibbotson 


‘A good solid well established firm with good communication and a wide knowledge of the legal system’

‘Gillian Ibbotson has looked after our long standing family affairs ,I have built up not only a great trust in her work for us but also a friendship which is so important in this day and age.’

‘The team are experienced in dealing with agricultural clients, and have a deep understanding of issues particular to this sector. Their advice reflects their understanding that often family relationships within the farming community can require a sensitive approach, and the impact this can have on advice that may be acceptable to all parties.’

‘Gillian Ibbotson is skilled in ascertaining whether the issue she is presented with is actually the problem the client has. Her approach enables her to drill down to what the client “meant” to ask, rather than what they “thought” they should ask. By establishing the background in this manner, she ensures appropriate advice is provided, and where required, others in the firm, or external advisers, are brought on board in a timely manner.’

Sintons LLP

Sintons LLP in Newcastle acts for a wide range of clients, including local farmers, landowners, rural businesses, developers, private clients and estates. The team advises clients on acquisitions and disposals, estate management and tenancies, and also acts in disputes. Tom Wills leads the team, with expertise including agricultural tenancies, minerals and manorial rights. Paul Liddle is experienced in supporting landowners and developers in the energy, waste and renewables sector.

Practice head(s):

Tom Wills

Other key lawyers:

Paul Liddle; Sam Watts


‘There was no single item that made the practice unique, it was the summation of attention to detail, working within the agreed timescale, availability for discussions and willingness to suggest the way forward that made the team stand out’

‘The team was made by the individuals who exhibited all the skills mention for the team. We worked with Tom Wills and Sam Watts whose interest in all the details of our project inspired confidence’

‘Direct contract and personal approach in favouring the phone above other means.’

‘Very personal approach and absolute discretion.’


Key clients

Suez Recycling

Embleton Parish Council

The Lambton Estate

Darlington Football Club

Stephen Gair / Bowes Manor Equestrian Centre

HJ Banks Company Limited

Cussins Homes Limited

Lord Ravensworth / Ravensworth Estate

Holystone Civil Engineering Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for Embleton Parish Council as they acquired Embleton Quarry and surrounding land by way of a community asset transfer. They have exciting plans which include education and giving something back to the local community.
  • Instructed by Ravensworth Estate to complete the surrender of an Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 tenancy and it was then regranted over part and to allow the succession to a tenant who may have struggled to meet the complex legal criteria.

Gibson & Co Solicitors Ltd

Based in both Hexham and Newcastle, the team at Gibson & Co Solicitors Ltd provides ‘insightful and succinct’ advice while also handling contentious work. The practice includes high value rural property transactions, right of way disputes, and complex Agricultural Holdings 1986 Act work. Practice head Harry Chrisp in Hexham ‘takes an informed yet pragmatic approach’, leading in a broad range of matters.

Practice head(s):

Harry Chrisp


‘A great team who communicate clearly and comprehensively. Issues are explained and dealt with in a professional manner. I have used this firm and am happy to recommend this firm.’

‘They are insightful and succinct, keeping things simple where possible.’

‘The team have a longstanding reputation for being a reliable and personable source of legal advice.’

‘Harry Chrisp is a pleasure to work with on complex cases and has that uncanny knack of being able to untangle the impossible.’

‘The firm, and all its staff, provide an efficient and knowledgeable service for their clients in the fields of agriculture and rural landownership. One can rely on prompt responses and an attention to detail.’

‘Approachable always. Delivered ahead of timeline.’

‘Good personable and knowledgeable Partners who are well known in the region. They have a willingness to work with other legal firms where specialist knowledge is needed, eg with Trust structures set up by others.’

‘Accessibility and lower cost structures than national or London based firms.’

Key clients

North East Grains Limited

Thompson family

Work highlights

  • Advised North East Grains Storage Limited in the acquisition of Swarland Grain Store.

Muckle LLP

Praised for its ‘in depth agricultural and rural legal knowledge’, the practice at Muckle LLP in Newcastle is continuously strengthening its offering. This includes property portfolio management for landed estates, agricultural tenancy work, and rural renewable energy schemes. In addition, new hire Charlotte Patterson-Ryan, who joined from Womble Bond Dickinson in January 2022 can act for banks in secured lending transactions involving rural property. David Towns leads the team, with considerable rural property experience.

Practice head(s):

David Towns

Other key lawyers:

Elizabeth Earle; Charlotte Patterson-Ryan


‘A very experienced team with a diverse range of specialist in other areas of law to draw upon if the need arises.’

‘Charlotte Patterson Ryan is an exceptional solicitor. Her real estate and agricultural knowledge is unfounded and her ability to quickly scrutinise matters to ensure that the most appropriate and robust strategy is adopted has proven to add value in each case.’

‘In depth agricultural and rural legal knowledge’

‘Charlotte Patterson-Ryan – exceptional case management’

‘Client service and speed of response.’

‘Approachable and good to access with a very clear sound agricultural knowledge’

‘David Towns and Elizabeth Earle form a great team. Particularly good at seeing through a problem’

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

Work highlights

  • Acting for the seller in a multi-million farm sale.
  • Acting for a landed estate client in relation to drafting and advising on a multi-year licence agreement, granting the licensee the right to hold an open-air festival, open to the public on the landowner’s property.
  • Acting for a collective of 10 separate farming landowners, with a number of different agents, in respect of options for leases and an option to purchase for a planned 1,200-acre solar farm.

Ward Hadaway LLP

With rural property expert Stefan Bainbridge as a core practitioner, the team at Ward Hadaway LLP in Newcastle is well equipped to act for private landowners, farmers, rural businesses and banks active in the sector. The practice covers sales and purchases, mineral extraction and issues relating to ownership of mines and minerals as well as agricultural securities and mortgages. Alex Cox is active on matters relating to mines and minerals.

Other key lawyers:

Stefan Bainbridge; Alex Cox

Key clients

The Banks Group

Barclays Bank plc

Canal & River Trust

Land Trust

University of Newcastle

Northumberland National Park Authority