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  1. Agriculture and estates
  2. Leading individuals

Who Represents Who

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‘A market leader, with a great depth of resources’, Anderson Strathern has the capacity to provide a full service to owners of estates, farms, forestry and other rural interests. It is particularly noted for its work for larger estates, which includes a long-term client relationships with the Crown Estates and the National Trust of Scotland. The practice is led by John Mitchell is ‘outstanding in his field’ and ‘always provides the highest quality of advice’ in relation to landed estates. Fiona Stephen is ‘a leading litigation solicitor’ who has extensive experience appearing before the Scottish Land Court and at the Lands Tribunal for Scotland in relation to disputed agricultural matters. Adèle Nicol is ‘well known for rural conveyancing and tenancy issues’, including complex land titles and voluntary land registration. Fiona Gibb is noted for possessing vast expertise in the acquisition, sale and management of estates and rural conveyancing, in addition to handling charitable property portfolios.

Brodies LLP's ‘first-class’ practice advises rural landed estates, farming and rural businesses, lenders, funders, developers and public sector organisations across Scotland on all corporate, commercial and litigation matters. Odell Milne provides ‘an exceptional strategic overview’, and specialises in compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) and utility work. ‘Efficient, intelligent and good under pressure’, Kirsty Macpherson focuses on rural renewable energy matters.  Alex Buchan has ‘a commercial outlook’ and particular sector knowledge in commercial rural estates. Noted for her ‘great attention to detail in transactions’, Kate McLeish advises clients on a range of agricultural holdings. The group advised the GFG Alliance on the $330m acquisition of eight Estates, which involved an extensive review of agricultural and renewables leases, grazing and residential tenancies. In another highlight, it assisted the Litchfield Family with the sale of the whole issued share capital of Tulchan Sporting Estates to a Russian businessman, in a transaction that was affected by land ownership reform and a high level of public scrutiny. Clive Philips leads the practice.

Gillespie Macandrew LLP has an extensive track record in island, land and rural business matters, including succession issues, complex estate, farm and forestry transactions, estate restructuring, complex ownership, crofting and renewable energy projects. The practice is led by Robert Scott-Dempster, whose clients include a number of major Scottish estates. Fraser Leslie is routinely called on to advise on option agreements, leases and the related land aspects of onshore renewable projects. Mike Blair has experience in sporting rights, business structures and environmental issues. Alan White handles a broad range of issues particular to Scotland, including crofting rights.

Turcan Connell’s team is led by Jonathan Robertson and has ‘fantastic knowledge of agricultural legal matters’, including farm and estate transactions, agricultural tenancies, diversification, land reform, renewables, minerals and development. Recent highlights include advising a major land owner on granting options to take leases relating to minerals development, and the construction of the associated processing and storage facilities. Grierson Dunlop is noted for providing ‘an excellent level of service in relation to complex development programs on large estates’. Don Mcleod assists clients with crofting law and the commercial development of croft land. Louise Johnston has particular expertise in the new Scottish voluntary land registration legislation.

The team at Blackadders LLP provides an ‘efficient and effective’ service to rural and agricultural clients across the spectrum of contentious and non-contentious work, including renewables, succession planning, property matters and tenancies. Petra Grunenburg leads the practice and has a particular strength in rural and commercial conveyancing matters. Legal director Gail Clarke is noted for employing ‘a highly professional approach’ and acts for a number of national and international forestry investment clients. Highlights included advising a major bank on the security relative to the purchase of five farms in north east Scotland and assisting a family farming partnership on the purchase of a farm near Dundee. Aberdeen-based Ellen Eunson made partner in April 2018.

Ledingham Chalmers LLP is steeped in agricultural law, and maintains a presence at Thainstone Agricultural Centre and Stirling Marts. The firm advises the range of rural businesses on all matters pertaining to land holdings and estates, in addition to more niche areas, such as sporting and fishing rights, equestrian law and crofting. ‘Friendly and efficient’ Hazel Moir co-leads the practice alongside Jim Drysdale. ‘Knowledgeable’ Catherine Bury is noted for handling rural transactional work, whilst ‘considerably experienced’ Stirling-based legal director Linda Tinson has a particular focus on succession planning, and land purchase, building on a her farming background.

Lindsays  has particular expertise in the rural property sector, in addition to general agricultural and renewables matters. Recent highlights for practice head, Michael Yellowlees include advising a Canadian client on their appointment as lieutenant of a clan chief in Canada and the process required to confirm the appointment. Lauren Cook assisted the Argyll Estates with a dispute concerning crofting and grazing rights around a loch. Andrew Linehan advised the Kibble Family on the sale of Falahill Farm, which included a major renewable energy installation and a particularly complex land title, to English buyers.

Shepherd and Wedderburn’s team stands out for its ability to ‘speak a language that agricultural clients understand’ in its advice on a variety of complex rural matters that includes transactional work, in addition to business support and renewable energy projects. Peter Misselbrook leads the practice and acts for a number of large estate owners and farmers, with a particular expertise on hunting matters. Misselbrook advised the Invercauld Estates on the sale of one of its grouse moors, in a transaction that involved an amendment and re-grant of the client’s sporting agreement and issues regarding access and overlapping historic estate titles. ‘Knowledgeable’ Richard Leslie advised the Lothian Family Trust on the sale of agricultural land in the Scottish Borders, which required contractual arrangements to safeguard a Roman road on the estate. Hugh Smith is assisting Brookfield Renewable with securing Option Agreements over potential compensatory planting areas in order to comply with Scottish Forestry Commission obligations. The team expanded in April 2017 with the recruitment of Hamish Lean from Stronachs LLP, who is recommended for his ‘strength in finding practical solutions’.

Thorntons Law LLP handles the full range of matters faced by rural businesses, including estate and farm purchases, sales, leases, security work and renewables projects. The team is led by Kenneth Mackay, who has extensive experience in rural property law, advising a mixture of private individuals, small, medium and large agricultural businesses and local authorities. Linsey Barclay-Smith, whose practice includes rural property, renewable energy and public sector work, is noted for her ability to ‘manage and delegate work to ensure prompt service’. Christopher Lindley has ‘an excellent all round knowledge of agricultural law and its application’ and leads on agricultural security matters.

Davidson Chalmers LLP’s practice is particularly recommended for matters pertaining to renewables and waste management. Andy Drane leads the team and is particularly experienced in advising rural businesses on farm diversification, family disputes, energy projects and the disposal of land for development. Drane is currently assisting RJ Tyser Overseas Settlement with its disposal of a housing development site of around 250 units to Barratt Homes, in the first phase of a larger development. Laura Tainsh and Stuart Duncan are advising the Dunrobin Highland Distillery on developing distillery facilities and a visitor centre within the Dunrobin Castle estate, in a deal that includes complex lease agreements that meet the specific land-use needs of the client. Sheila Webster is acting for a group of several tenant farmers in a high profile judicial review, which seeks compensation from the Scottish Government following the introduction of legislation that has affected property rights in farming partnerships.

Harper Macleod LLP advises a mixture of farming, forestry (the Forestry Commission Scotland is a long-standing client) and estate clients, which it provides ‘a very good level of service’ in connection with transactional matters, estate management, diversification and agricultural disputes. Community ownership is another focus, and the firm has acted in a number of rural community buy-outs. The team is led by Graeme Nisbet who continues to represent the firm’s institutional rural clients on a variety of acquisitions, disposals and leases, in addition to the delivery of key projects. Calum MacLeod has particular experience in land reform and community ownership and recently acted for the Garbh Allt Community Initiative in its purchase of West Helmsdale Estate, which included elements of crofting law. Associate Lynne Stevenson is praised for providing ‘clear and pragmatic solutions’.

The ‘strong’ team at Morton Fraser is led by James Rust, who is ‘a first class leader with superb attention to detail’ and is supported by senior associate and ‘up and coming legal wizard’, Gail Watt. The group’s primary focus is transactional matters, although it also advises land owners, landed estates, farmers, charities, public sector organisations on all aspects of agricultural and rural legal issues, including property, estate management, crofting law, tenancies, equine and livestock law. It is currently advising the Scottish Wildlife Trust on a number of renewable energy projects, including the establishment of a community-based hydro-electric joint venture scheme. It is also assisting Scottish Natural Heritage with its major registration project in connection with the Land Register of Scotland.

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Legal Developments in Scotland for Agriculture and estates

  • Parking rights: here to stay? Consent might be the surprising answer 


    In the field of the acquisition of easements by prescription, little has caused more consternation over the last decade or so than the question of whether a right to park cars can be acquired by twenty years user as of right. The types of property capable of being adversely affected range from individual residential units all the way up to major development sites. The establishment of such a right can have a devastating impact on the value of the burdened land.

    - Falcon Chambers

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