Agriculture and estates in Scotland

Anderson Strathern

With an impressive client roster including some of Scotland’s largest estates, Anderson Strathern‘s rural practice is well placed to handle a variety of contentious and non-contentious agricultural mandates with a particular emphasis on the renewable energy sector. Practice head John Mitchell is the key contact for high-profile rural property transactions, including the sale and purchase of major estates and land areas. Adele Nicol advises on agricultural and residential tenancies matters, while Linsey Barclay-Smith handles partnership disputes. The team also includes Anne Chapman, Sheonagh Richards, legal director Tim Macdonald, who joined the firm from Lindsays in December 2022, and associate Karen Craig.

Practice head(s):

John Mitchell

Other key lawyers:

Linsey Barclay-Smith; Karen Craig; Tim Macdonald; Sheonagh Richards; Anne Chapman; Adele Nicol


‘A very well connected practice, which works seamlessly with other practices within the firm, such as planning and tax, as well as with external specialists. They are friendly, responsive and commercially minded and good at listening to clients and thinking strategically about the best way to achieve the objective.’

‘Linsey Barclay-Smith is friendly, charming and effective. She knows everyone of relevance in the sector and is able and willing to call on her excellent network for the right resources in any given situation.’

‘The team works well together as a coherent unit, calling on each others’ strengths and knowledge and cumulative experience to provide a highly competent level of service. Professionalism, prompt responses and turnaround times. No-nonsense, frank and easy-to-understand advice given without fear or favour. Standouts are Linsey Barclay-Smith and Karen Craig.’

Key clients

The Buccleuch Estates Limited

Crown Estate Scotland

The National Trust for Scotland

Dumfries Estate

Littlewood Estate

Castle Milk and Corrie Estates

Errol Estate

Aberchalder and Glengarry Estate Limited

Carnbroe Estate

Elgin Energy Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting on two significant sales to complete Buccleuch’s planned disposal of Langholm Moor. Consistent with current policy, the objective of both buyers is the future land management for environmental gain in an attempt to address the twin emergencies of climate change and biodiversity loss.
  • Continues to advise Oxbury Bank plc, a new entrant into the agricultural lending market, in relation to its Scottish lending documentation and significant secured lending over several farms in Scotland during the review period.
  • Supporting Crown Estate Scotland’s investment in the Stornoway Deep Water Port. Once completed, the terminal will be able to accommodate large cruise ships and serve the marine energy sector.

Brodies LLP

Praised for its ‘unrivaled knowledge‘ of the sector, Brodies LLP‘s rural business practice has a deep and experienced bench with demonstrable strength across the agricultural landscape. The team advises landed estates, rural businesses, developers and public sector entities on the full spectrum of agricultural matters, including complex and high-value transactions. Clive Phillips heads the team and has a solid track record advising on large estates and commercial rural matters. Now a consultant, Odell Milne is a key contact for compulsory purchase matters, most notably those pertaining to rail and road projects. Alex Buchan takes point on agricultural tenancies issues, Kate McLeish handles agricultural holdings matters, while Graeme Leith is a key contact for forestry clients and investors. Karren Smith acts for clients in the Highlands. Associate Andrew Askew Blain is another key member of the team.

Practice head(s):

Clive Phillips

Other key lawyers:

Kate McLeish; Graeme Leith; Odell Milne; Alex Buchan; Andrew Askew Blain; Karren Smith


‘The Brodies team provides an excellent service in a manner that is friendly, frank and honest.’

‘The Brodies team is led by Clive Phillips and supported by Andrew Askew Blain. Both have stood out in their particular specialisms and all have had a focus on closing deals.’

‘Kate McLeish’s legal knowledge in navigating a challenging project was outstanding. At all times, we felt we were in safe hands with good advice given and a trusted relationship built. With little legal knowledge ourselves, complex issues were explained clearly. The project grew as it became clear, that having legal protections in place were vital. We were so grateful for Kate going above and beyond, the reassurance her work has given us is invaluable.’

‘I have found Graeme Leith to be extremely approachable and knowledgeable on any topic around managing our estate. More often than not, he goes above and beyond what is expected and delivers on time. Pleasure to work with.’

‘Great depth of experience in a large team.’

‘The Brodies team has an unrivaled knowledge of the agriculture and estates discipline. They have a can-do attitude, and no issue or timescales seem to ever be a problem. In terms of value for money, they cannot be faulted. Highly recommend.’

‘Kate McLeish has a comprehensive knowledge of agricultural legislation and practice. Karren Smith is very experienced in land agency and renewables agreements, leases and property transactions. Both are very good at dealing with clients with excellent interpersonal skills.’

‘Clive Phillips is an experienced and practical adviser with a good understanding of key issues and commercial outcomes. Andrew Askew Blain is a very capable and articulate associate, who quickly gets to the core of the issues and provides concise and understandable advice.’

Key clients

Gladstone Family – Scottish Estates.

Innes Estates/Innes Trading Company Limited

Bagger-Sorensen Group

Glen Tanar Estate/Michael Bruce

Andrew Booth/Savock Farms

Cooke Aquaculture

Ben Alder Estate

Seafield & Reidhaven Estates

Dunecht Estates

2 Sisters Ltd


Scottish Woodlands

Marine Harvest/ Cooke Aquaculture

Scottish Land & Estates

Andrew Graham and Sons


West Lothian Council

Perth & Kinross Council

Work highlights

  • Assisted two clients with the purchase of a prestigious historic castle and original walled garden forming a residential, agricultural and forestry low-ground estate in the Angus Glens.
  • Assisted an international client with the purchase of the historic Rossie Priory.
  • Assisted Kenmore Hospitality Limited with the purchase of Glenlyon Estate, involving a sporting estate and a hydro scheme.

Gillespie Macandrew LLP

Gillespie Macandrew LLP's long-standing agriculture and estates offering runs the gamut of land and rural business matters. The team acts for some of the largest rural estates in Scotland and handles complex diversification projects, renewable energy matters as well as significant forestry and estate transactions. The ‘exceptionally able' Robert Scott-Dempster leads the team, and is an accredited agriculture specialist with an emphasis on rural businesses and landed estates. Fraser Leslie is noted for his extensive experience in onshore renewable energy projects, while Alan White is a key name for crofting law. Lois Newton made partner in 2022; she assists individuals, families, businesses and trusts with a wide range of rural matters. The team is backed by strong associates, including Lorna Balfour and Amy Eakin. Murray Soutar  left the team in January 2023 and is now at Turcan Connell.

Practice head(s):

Robert Scott-Dempster


‘There is a wonderful collective team that is able to deliver professional advice, and who are also not afraid to bring in other help when they think it’s in the client’s interest.’

‘Robert Scott-Dempster’s legal knowledge and ability to explain complex issues in simple terms is unparalleled in my experience. Lorna Balfour is a highly impressive individual with a proactive approach that gets deals done with the least friction.’

‘Robert Scott-Dempster is a leader in his field and can deliver very-easy-to-understand advice on sometimes very complex matters.’

Work highlights

Shepherd and Wedderburn

Led by Hamish Lean from Aberdeen, Shepherd and Wedderburn's practice is praised for its broad expertise across agriculture and estates matters. Richard Leslie leads the Edinburgh team and advises on environmental, renewable energy and forestry matters, while Lean advises on major rural transactions with an emphasis on tenancy law. Petra Grunenberg is recommended for her specialist knowledge in succession planning and partnership matters, while Stuart Greenwood is the key contact for forestry transactions. Other key contacts include newly promoted partner Emma Robertson, Hazel Anderson and Alexandra Lane.

Practice head(s):

Hamish Lean

Other key lawyers:

Richard Leslie; Stuart Greenwood; Petra Grunenberg; Emma Robertson; Hazel Anderson; Alexandra Lane


‘A wide spectrum of expertise to deal with complex matters, with good communication.’

‘Hamish Lean is a “turn-to man”. His advice is clear, to the point, and the aim is always to find a solution. Emma Robertson and Alexandra Lane have clearly been brought through with this same mantra. They are both clear in advice and calm when the pressure is on.’

‘A very passionate team that engages with their sector well and integrates itself into the industry. A strong understanding of the challenges faced with a wealth and breadth of understanding and knowledge on how to deal with them.’

Work highlights

Harper Macleod LLP

Forestry, community land and crofting law are key areas of expertise for Harper Macleod LLP‘s rural team, which counts private and public sector bodies among its clients. Graeme Nisbet heads the team from Glasgow and advises on high-profile and sensitive transactions alongside land management matters in the rural sector. In Inverness. Calum MacLeod, an accredited crofting law expert, takes point on rural property work with an emphasis on crofting. Tom Gray made partner in April 2022 and regularly handles transactions in the forestry sector.

Practice head(s):

Graeme Nisbet

Other key lawyers:

Tom Gray; Calum MacLeod


‘Tom Gray has acted for us in buying additional land and an loch area from adjoining owners with great skill and attention. He is always first to offer advice and to take us to task if ambitions are not reasonably achievable. We delighted in his appointment as partner, which was richly deserved. His attention to detail and a relentless terrier attitude to our instructions mark him apart in our very high-value transactions.’

‘We have an excellent relationship with Tom Gray. He seems to be ahead of the curve with the latest on land and forestry policy as well as the legal side. We have been particularly impressed with their grasp of the renewable energy sector. HM is a one-stop shop for everything that our farming business needs.’

‘Tom Gray has been excellent to deal with over the past few years. He has always made himself available – even after normal working hours, and I feel that he is also invested in the success of our business. There is also a good element of trust to the extent that I have made Tom one of the five trustees of my will alongside family members and close friends.’

‘Responsive on a wide range of rural issues. Advice from across the team according to individual specialisms.’

‘Tom Gray and Graeme Nisbet have provided excellent support. Responses are timely, and they provide the reassurance necessary to proceed with rural public sector casework.’

‘This practice is reliable and consistent, staff is readily available to offer advice and support to my business, no matter how large or small the issue.’

‘Individuals are quick to return advice, offering candid views, simply explaining their interpretation of situations.’

‘Calum MacLeod has a good understanding of the sector.’

Key clients

Forestry and Land Scotland

Spey Properties Limited

Craignathro Farms Limited

The Langholm Initiative

Scottish Forestry


The Firm of Firthhead Partners

The Glenmorangie Company (Macdonald & Muir Limited)

King’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer

EnergieKontor UK Limited

Clydesdale Bank UK PLC

Xafinity Pension Trustees Limited

City of Edinburgh Council

Work highlights

  • Acted for the Langholm Initiative on the successful buyout of over 5,300 acres of moorland for nature restoration and preservation from Buccleuch Estate.
  • Acted on behalf of Forestry and Land Scotland on the £17.6m acquisition of Glenprosen Estate extending to 16,500 acres.
  • Acted on behalf of NatureScot on the sale of the 800 acre Glencripesdale nature reserve to RSPB Scotland. The wildlife conservation charity hopes to restore the oak woodland as part of wider plans to preserve rainforest for the benefit of rare species and the climate.

Ledingham Chalmers LLP

Bolstered by the firm’s strong presence in Aberdeen and Inverness, Ledingham Chalmers LLP's rural team acts for a broad client base across the Highlands and Islands region. The team has particular strength in crofting law as well as renewable energy projects, and regularly handles tenancy issues, agricultural holdings matters and succession planning. Crofting expert Gary Webster co-heads the team with the ‘first-class’ Hazel Moir, who deals with the full spectrum of rural and agricultural transactional work. Senior solicitor Emily Flett-Grant and associate Lois Craig are other key individuals. Jim Dysdale, Linda Tinson and Lorna McKay left the team in spring 2023 and are now at Burness Paull LLP.

Practice head(s):

Hazel Moir; Gary Webster

Other key lawyers:

Emily Flett-Grant; Lois Craig


‘The team is very strong in the understanding of crofting law, which is complex and specialised. They also display excellent tactics when negotiating a lease option agreement for renewables developments.’

‘We have dealt with Gary Webster for over 5 years and he is extremely knowledgeable in crofting and Scots land law. He also displays excellent negotiating tactics and is consistently professional in his dealings with us as a client. He has superb understanding of the practical aspects of the crofting and rural estates arena, so his legal advice is always tempered with practical suggestions. Emily Flett-Grant, who works alongside Gary, is very thorough and displays plenty of experience in the area of crofting and rural estates.’

‘Having worked with Ledingham Chalmers for a number of years, there is a great continuity of staff, who are easy to get hold of when required. They have a good knowledge of my business and our family. As well as the rural side, I have dealt with a number of different departments and have found them all to be very knowledgeable.’

Work highlights


Lindsays' rural services practice has a long track record handling large, landed estates matters, specialising in agricultural tenancies, crofting law and renewable energy projects. The firm is also well equipped to advise on clan law, feudal dignities and heraldic law, with practice head Michael Yellowlees being the key contact here. Susan Law is regularly instructed by landowner and developer clients to assist with renewable energy projects. Senior associate Eilidh Robertson and associate Lewis Crofts are other key members of the team. Tim Macdonald left the firm in December 2022 and is now at Anderson Strathern.

Practice head(s):

Michael Yellowlees

Other key lawyers:

Susan Law; Eilidh Robertson; Lewis Crofts


‘I had a lot to do with the team of Michael Yellowlees. All were very professional in their work. I felt very comfortable with them. I experienced them as a well established team.’

‘They are thoughtful. Very thorough and direct. Lindsays is first class and is one of the best and most collaborative law firms I’ve worked with over the past 25 years. Their attention to detail is second to none.’

‘Lindsays has an excellent team culture. They are very approachable. Susan Law has been instrumental in guiding a client through stages of property transactions ahead of a sale on to another purchaser. Susan is responsive and experienced. She gets things done, which enables clients and projects to move forward. Michael Yellowlees is like no other I know. Calm, measured and one of the most knowledgeable rural lawyers I know. In general, they are definitely a “go-to” practice for any advice.’

‘Michael Yellowlees and Susan Law are always accessible, friendly, positive, realistic and helpful.’

‘The Lindsays team provides a wide range of experience and expertise covering all legal aspects of residential property ownership. Michael Yellowlees is our main point of contact. His knowledge and commercial focus has delivered successful results in numerous complex legal transactions.’

‘Michael Yellowlees is helpful and professional. Eilidh Robertson is a credit to Lindsays, she is professional, knowledgeable and provides sound advice. Our organisation holds Eilidh in high regard.’

‘I have been extremely pleased with Lindsays and would seek to use them for my own legal work in the future. They have worked well as a team, with more junior associates taking point when my more senior point of contact was unavailable. The directors communicate well with each other. They also handled external communication well.’

‘Great team, collaborating with all parties efficiently and within agreed timescales.’

Key clients

Argyll Estates

Tarbert Estate

Achnacarry and Lochiel Estates

British Wool Marketing Board

Colonsay Estate

Fothringham Estate Company Limited – Fothringham Estate

Murthly and Strathbraan Estates

CWL Energy Limited/Community Windpower Limited

Scottish Water

The Pairc Trust – Pairc Estate

Impala Estates Limited

Ethical Power

Josephine Marshall Trust, Barguillean Estate

Work highlights

  • Assisted a private client with the sale of the Feudal Earldom of Arran and Lochranza and Lochranza Castle.
  • Assisted Evison Farmers with the £8m sale of Monachyle Wood, a 621-hectare commercial forestry plantation.

Murray Beith Murray LLP

Private client boutique Murray Beith Murray LLP draws on the firm’s wider private client capabilities to advise on the full range of rural property transactions, wealth management and succession planning matters. The team is regularly instructed by estates, trusts and corporate entities. Andrew Linehan, an accredited rural law specialist, heads the practice and is supported by associates Dorothy Lawrence, Anna MacLeod and Nicola Roberts. Hugh Younger retired from the partnership in 2023 but continues to assist clients as consultant.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Linehan

Other key lawyers:

Dorothy Lawrence; Anna MacLeod; Nicola Roberts


‘Very approachable team and willing to meet clients on-site.’

‘Andrew Linehan has many years of extensive experience in the rural sector, including advising farms and estates on property matters, both at transactional and strategic levels.’

‘Andrew Linehan is very good at liaising closely with clients, and recognises the importance of understanding both the positive and negative consequences of any instruction, before the instructions are put into action.’

‘The rural team at Murray Beith Murray led by Andrew Linehan provides advice that is practical, personal, relevant to the circumstances and, more importantly, works on the ground. They offer a real alternative to the large Edinburgh practices.’

‘Andrew Linehan is a gentle giant with an understated manner, who commands a natural confidence and authority, which makes you listen attentively to the advice provided.’

‘The Murray Beith Murray team combines technical expertise and experience across the full breadth of the rural land sector with excellent client care and communication skills. They are also excellent in collaboration with other professional advisors (e.g land agents and tax advisors) to ensure their clients receive the best possible advice.’

‘I have worked particularly closely with Andrew Linehan and his colleagues, Nicola Roberts and Dorothy Lawrence. Their ability to maintain momentum in the transaction, address the legal technicalities and process them efficiently as well as the quality of reporting to the client and agent sets them apart from many of their peers in the sector.’

Key clients

Mansfield Estate

Work highlights

  • Acting on the lotted sale of a substantial traditional highland estate centred on a mansion house with a mix of let and in-hand farms, cottages, forestry and salmon fishings, and involving complex title issues.
  • Acted on the private sale of a 10,000-acre highland sporting estate.
  • Acted for an LLP, which already owned an extensive highland estate, on purchasing a neighbouring 2,000-acre estate.

Thorntons Law LLP

Thorntons Law LLP's full-service practice leverages its geographic spread to advise clients throughout Scotland; this includes landowners, developers and trusts. Head of practice Kenneth Mackay, based in Edinburgh, receives regular instructions on crofting law, renewable energy projects and agricultural tenancies, while Christopher Lindley, based in Forfar, is the primary contact for residential and commercial rural transactions. In Perth, Lesley Mearns advises on agricultural and rural property law with a focus on farm and forestry sales. The team is supported by associates Robin Dunlop and Debbie Dewar alongside senior solicitor Rebecca Ellwood.

Practice head(s):

Kenneth Mackay

Other key lawyers:

Lesley Mearns; Rebecca Ellwood; Christopher Lindley; Robin Dunlop; Debbie Dewar


‘Single point of contact, and where input was required from colleagues, this was handled seamlessly. Well informed, genuine and knowledgeable. Willingness to listen and negotiate.’

‘I found my contact Robin Dunlop very thorough and professional without overcomplicating or protracting proceedings. I found him efficient and accurate, without the need to repeat or correct erroneous information.’

‘Christopher Lindley took the time to come to our property and sorted out what was required in a quick professional manner. He was easy to communicate with and explained everything.’

Key clients

Scottish Water

Work highlights

Davidson Chalmers Stewart

Davidson Chalmers Stewart has particular strength in farm diversification projects and is regularly instructed by farmers, investors, landowners and commercial food producers. Andy Drane leads the team, which also advises on business management,  regulatory compliance and contentious matters. The team has recently seen increased activity in work related to carbon sequestering and carbon credits. Director Louise Jones handles lending matters, while director Henrietta Macpherson has particular expertise in sporting matters. Andrew McDonald left for Burness Paull LLP in July 2023.

Practice head(s):

Andy Drane

Other key lawyers:

Louise Jones; Henrietta Macpherson


‘DCS has a very sound grasp of the sector, including the various issues and opportunities around it. The firm’s knowledge and network, particularly in renewable energy, helps their clients’ decision making.’

‘Andy Drane is exceptional in the time he gives to understand the client’s needs and to anticipate upcoming challenges.’

‘Excellent knowledge of the sector. Swift and attentive on all aspects and agreements.’

‘Andy Drane and his team are always on hand and ready to help.’

Key clients

Alex Brewster & Sons Limited

AFP Assets Limited

Cambusmore Estates Ltd

Charlesfield Farms Limited

John P Gray & Son

McMaster Consortium of Farmers

RT Overseas Settlement

Woodland Renewables Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised a large family farming partnership on the dissolution of its business and the distribution of farm assets to former partners. This included addressing contentious inter-partner issues without the need to resort to litigation.
  • Advising a landowner in negotiating legal contracts for the creation of a 400MW battery storage scheme for the storage of electricity generated from renewable sources. This included the restructuring of various family trusts and arrangements to secure income streams into the future.
  • Advising Cambusmore Estates Ltd on the sale of Cambusmore Estate. This includes the sale of fishing and sporting rights, the transfer of various renewable energy option agreements and the transfer of a carbon credit forestry planting scheme.

Morton Fraser MacRoberts

Led by Matthew Barclay, the agriculture and rural property team at Morton Fraser MacRoberts acts for a diverse body of clients, including high-net-worth individuals, large landowners and investors. Barclay is particularly experienced in agricultural tenancy and community land law. Crofting law and rural property transactions are two key areas of focus for the team, which also includes legal director Gail Watt and senior solicitor Martin Minton. Rowena Claxton assists with real estate matters.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Barclay

Other key lawyers:

Gail Watt; Martin Minton; Rowena Claxton


‘Matthew Barclay and Rowena Claxton are the outstanding solicitors we deal with.’

Morton Fraser is our preferred choice. Unsurprisingly this is due to their knowledge of the organisation and the continuity of staff.

Key clients

Scottish Mines Restoration Trust Limited

The Scottish Ministers

Scottish Wildlife Trust

Orkney Islands Council

The Royal Bank of Scotland plc

Clydesdale Bank plc (now Virgin Money)

SRUC (Scotland’s Rural College)

Diageo plc

Work highlights

  • Acted on behalf of Scottish Mines Restoration Trust on various property matters relating to the remediation of former open cast coal mines.
  • Acted on behalf of the Scottish Ministers in providing broad property and crofting advice in relation to their extensive landholdings.
  • Advised the Scottish Wildlife Trust on peatland restoration projects on their nature reserves.

Burness Paull LLP

Burness Paull LLP’s practice was bolstered by the arrival of rural business specialist Linda Tinson and her team from Ledingham Chalmers LLP in spring 2023. Tinson now heads the practice and covers both traditional and novel areas of agricultural law, including conveyancing matters, succession planning and natural capital issues. She joined the firm together with Jim Drysdale, now a consultant, and senior associate Lorna McKay, an accredited agricultural specialist noted for her transactional and conveyancer capabilities. The core team also includes director Colin Brown and associate Alan Gibson, who routinely assist agriculture, farming and rural business sector clients with property matters.

Practice head(s):

Linda Tinson

Other key lawyers:

Jim Drysdale; Lorna McKay; Colin Brown; Alan Gibson


‘They are always positive, precise and friendly.’

‘We are extremely grateful to Alan Gibson for all his work and undivided attention he has given to us. He is extremely good at his job. His attention to detail is great and his interpretation of contracts is superb. He goes above and beyond – unbelievable dedication to the job.’

Work highlights