Agriculture and estates in Scotland

Anderson Strathern

Anderson Strathern advises land owners and private individuals on a wide range of transactions, including sales, transfers, leases and access arrangements, often for projects relating to the development of wind farms. The practice also acts for lenders, including a number of major banks, seeking to acquire large land portfolios, and was reappointed to Crown Estate Scotland's panel during 2018. Practice head John Mitchell, an accredited specialist in agricultural law, handles all types of rural property transactions and provides regular advice to landlords and tenants on agricultural tenancies.

Practice head(s):

John Mitchell

Key clients

The Buccleuch Estates Limited

Crown Estate Scotland

Roxburghe Estates

The National Trust for Scotland

The Mount Stuart Trust/Dumfries Estate

Penicuik Estate Partnership

Castle Milk and Corrie Estates

Errol Estate

Aberchalder Estate

Carnbroe Estate

Elgin Energy Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised on strategic review of a portfolio of 1991 Act tenancies to Limited Partnerships for leading Scottish landowner Buccleuch.
  • Advised on Buccleuch’s sale of a mixed portfolio of farms and rural property assets following a strategic review.
  • Advised Elgin Energy Limited on negotiation of option for lease for developer of first solar project in excess of 50MW to be consented in Scotland.
  • Advised Roxburghe Estate on the sale of a significant country hotel and golf course located in the Scottish Borders.
  • Advised Castle Milk and Corrie Estates on Access Arrangements for a multi-site windfarm development.

Brodies LLP

Brodies LLP's team of 'industry leaders' represents rural landed estates, farming and rural businesses, lenders, developers and public sector organisations on both sides of large land transactions, while also handling contentious matters such as disputes between tenants and land owners and the defence of compulsory orders to give up land. Clive Phillips has particular experience with windfarm options, leases and joint venture arrangements, areas in which he acts for both domestic and international clients. Odell Milne  advises clients including large farming businesses and poultry producers on development options, clean energy schemes, sales, acquisitions and commercial projects.

Practice head(s):

Clive Philips

Other key lawyers:

Odell Milne


“The team’s technical knowledge across what is a broad sector can only be described as consistently impressive. What is equally impressive is the team’s ability to apply that knowledge practically and commercially.”

“The firm offers approachable and knowledgeable local solicitors with practical experience of landowner and occupier issues.” 

“There is real depth in the team at Brodies and it works seamlessly with colleagues in other departments. The level of professionalism and commercial judgement are first class.”

“Clive Phillips has an excellent understanding of the market and regularly provides insight into current topics.”

Key clients

Gladstone Family

Innes Estates/Innes Trading Company

Bagger-Sorensen Group

FRP Advisory

Glen Tanar Estate

Savock Biogas

Dallas Estate

Seafield & Reidhaven Estates

Dunecht Estates

2 Sisters Ltd

Farmcare Ltd

Scottish Woodlands

Marine Harvest/ Cooke Aquaculture

Scottish Land & Estates

Dalnaspidal Estates Limited

Boralex Europe Sarl


Work highlights

  • Advised ERG, a leading wind energy operator in Italy, on the real estate due diligence for its acquisition of a 100% equity interest in Creag Riabhach Wind Farm Ltd.

Gillespie Macandrew LLP

Gillespie Macandrew LLP regular acts on both sides of major land transactions which include aspects such as access disputes, contentious employment issues and disputes over the value of land. The practice, which is led by Robert Scott-Dempster, is also notable for the advisory service it provides the Land Commission in terms of regulating the relationship between landlords and farm tenants. Associate Viktoria Wahle advises on security transactions for relating to rural property and also acts for landowners and developers on renewable energy developments.

Practice head(s):

Robert Scott-Dempster

Other key lawyers:

Viktoria Wahle

Work highlights

  • Advised on sale of a privately owned island extending to 2,500 hectares to a community body in terms of Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.

Shepherd and Wedderburn

Shepherd and Wedderburn acts for large rural clients in Scotland, as well as private individuals and private companies, on the sale and purchase of high value estates and agricultural land, in contentious leasing matters and in family farming partnership splits involving the distribution of assets. Head or rural property Hamish Lean advises clients on the formation, structure and winding up of agricultural businesses and renewable energy projects, while recent recruit Jacqueline Moore advises rural clients on naturalization issues and their ability to hire European workers in the context of the UK’s impending departure from the EU.

Practice head(s):

Peter Misselbrook

Other key lawyers:

Jacqueline Moore; Hamish Lean


‘Easily accessible – the firm provides quick responses to queries with clear reasoned advice’.

‘Hamish Lean is a very strong partner – he gives clear, reasoned advice in an understandable format’.

‘The team understands priorities and can work to to very difficult deadlines’.

Key clients

Invercauld Estate

Eskdalemuir Forestry Limited

The Woodland Trust

Lothian Estates

Clan Donald Lands Trust

Landmark Trust

Duke of Westminster Trustees

Royal Highland & Agricultural Society of Scotland

Electricity Supply Nominees (Forestry) Limited

Sutherland Estates

Mr Tom Greenhill

Fleming Farmers

Mr Henry Irvine-Fortescue

The Firm of Malcolm GD Morrison

Raymond and Rosaline Sharp

Mr James Bruce

Turcan Connell

Turcan Connell receives a high volume of instructions from land owners selling mixed estates comprising agricultural, residential and commercial assets, involving factors such as the transfer of entitlements and access rights. On the purchaser side, the team acts for high net worth individuals and investment funds looking to expand their portfolio. The firm has further expertise advising farmers and estate owners on the development of clean energy initiatives, including biomass schemes, onshore wind and solar PV. Jon Robertson’s broad caseload includes estate sales and purchases, agricultural tenancies and work for renewables clients.

Practice head(s):

Jon Robertson


‘One can have complete confidence that the Turcan Connell team are totally up to speed with both current and proposed legislation.’

‘Jon Robertson and Louise Johnstone play an essential part in complex agricultural tenancy matters.’

‘Other law firms have large teams of property professionals with a good working knowledge of rural property matters, but the private client agriculture and estates practice of Turcan Connell is unique for its large team of true experts in this oft misunderstood, specialist, field.’

‘Manner, tone, and quality of service are much more important than the individual – something often forgotten in the professional services sector. The Turcan Connell team don’t forget.’

Work highlights

  • Represented client in complex multi-lot estate sale.
  • Advising major agri-businesses in £20m anaerobic digestion ‘gas to grid’ project.
  • Advised on sale of large rural estate with title and RHI complications.
  • Advised on multiple forestry acquisitions for forestry investment fund with substantial war-chest.

Blackadders LLP

Blackadders LLP represents estates, family partnerships and major lenders on land acquisitions and sales, renewable energy projects, succession planning and inheritance tax matters, as well as complex leasing and subleasing matters. Rural land and business head Petra Grunenberg’s broad expertise includes option agreements and development sales, agricultural tenancies and partnership agreements. Recently promoted partner Ellen Eunson is a key contact for land transactions, while Gail Clarke focuses on forestry and renewables.

Practice head(s):

Petra Grunenberg

Other key lawyers:

Ellen Eunson; Gail Clarke

Harper Macleod LLP

Harper Macleod LLP’s team advises land owners, high net worth individuals and public sector bodies on land transactions, including the sale and purchase of crofting estates and crofts, while the firm also has particular expertise in the forestry sector, serving as sole legal advisor to the Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS). Rural head Graeme Nisbet handles acquisitions, disposals and leases for the FLS as well as farm and estate purchases for a range of other clients. Calum Macleod  is an expert in crofting law and Land Reform and Community Ownership: he advises clients on renewable energy developments on croftland, and acts for a large number of community owned estates.

Practice head(s):

Graeme Nisbet

Other key lawyers:

Calum Macleod


‘Graeme Nisbet provides a valuable role on client liaison and work priority management, as well as advising on cases.’

The firm’s partners and associates all provide an excellent service on individual cases and the customer satisfaction feedback across our organisation has been very positive.’

‘Calum Macleod has excellent sector knowledge and attention to detail in all matters.’


Key clients

The Firm of RM Clark

Veitch & Sons solicitors

Matthew Thomson

Catherine Kirk

Accountant in Bankruptcy

Woodland Creation UK

Craignathro Eggs Limited

Marion Ballantyne

Sheila Snowie

Historic Environment Scotland

James Bigham

Scottish Environment Protection Agency

Melness Crofters Estate

Ceannacroc Estate

Scaniport Estate

Keose Glebe Estate Trust Limited

Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS)

Work highlights

  • Advised on the £3.86m purchase of 6 and 7 Lochend, Barrock, a farm in Caithness which comprised two large owner-occupied crofts.
  • Advised on the £950,000 sale of Balnamoon Farm, a large mixed arable and livestock farm in Banff.
  • Advised on the £550,000 sale of The Burns Farm, Creetown for a farmer’s wife looking to divest herself from the family farm but retain a clawback for any future renewables development.
  • Advising and representing the Firm of Ythanbank Land Management on a continuing dispute on the validity of an agricultural tenancy in Ellon.
  • Acted for Garbh Allt Community, an eligible community under the Land Reform Act, in the purchase of West Helmsdale Estate, a crofting estate in Sutherland which comprises three crofting townships with three crofting common grazings.

Ledingham Chalmers LLP

Ledingham Chalmers LLP's 'collaborative and well connected' practice has particular expertise acting for clients in land transactions in the farming sector, where the team acts on both on the seller and buyer side of deals and has notable skill negotiating clawback agreements and clarifying titles to land in complex transactions. On the lender side, the team acts in commercial security transactions concerning agricultural land. Partner Jim Drysdale, an accredited specialist in agricultural law, has a strong knowledge of crofting and environmental law and carries out mediation for family businesses in disputes arising from the division of company shares.

Practice head(s):

Hazel Moir; Linda Tinson

Other key lawyers:

Jim Dysdale


“The team have a breadth of experience and knowledge of their legal area but are willing to think out of the box.” 

“Linda Tinson, Jim Drysdale and Catherine Bury are all standout individuals.” 

“Linda Tinson is solution-orientated and typically has already researched a solution before presenting a problem.” 

“Linda Tinson and Jim Drysdale both make a point of keeping abreast of current legislation and both have a very good understanding of all aspects of agriculture.”

Thorntons Law LLP

Thorntons Law LLP's 'technically astute' team advises land owners and lenders such as major banks on a range of complex acquisitions and other matters, including agricultural tenancies, purchase and sale of properties, renewables projects and succession planning. Land and rural business head Kenneth Mackay leads the team, working with partners across Perth, Forfar and Cupar. Associate Neil Darling joined the team from Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP in early 2019, bringing his experience of advising on forestry acquisitions and sales throughout the UK. Former partner Linsey Barclay-Smith left to join Morton Fraser in late 2018.

Practice head(s):

Kenneth Mackay

Other key lawyers:

Neil Darling


“Thorntons have an excellent team of lawyers who we instruct to deal with property matters on our behalf. The whole team are extremely knowledgeable in their field, they are personable and they present in a way that is easy to understand when dealing with often complex structures/purchases.”

Key clients

Scottish and Southern Energy

Scottish Water

Work highlights

  • Advised on the purchase of a significant sporting estate for the now largest landowner in Scotland.
  • Provided legal advice for complex security structure to assist farming family acquisition of new farm supported by guarantees against borrowings on existing farmland assets.

Davidson Chalmers Stewart

Davidson Chalmers Stewart advises land owners, public sector bodies and family partnerships on a wide range of matters, including lease agreements,  joint ventures and large land transactions and corporate sales in the renewables sector. The practice has recently been representing a number of tenant farmers in a judicial review against the Scottish government regarding new legislation impacting property rights in farming partnerships. During 2018 Louise Jones was promoted to the role of director of rural business, while  Laura Irvine joined as partner from BTO Solicitors LLP  in 2018.

Practice head(s):

Louise Jones

Other key lawyers:

Laura Irvine


“There is a closely knit team working at Davidson Chalmers so you are guaranteed a good breadth of experience and a team effort to get the job done.” 

“Davidson Chalmers provides an effective personal service which is thorough but pragmatic.”

“Louise Jones is thorough, determined and exacting.”

Key clients

R J McMaster (Lead Petitioner in Group of Tenant Farmers)

Dunrobin Highland Distillery Limited

RT Overseas Settlement

Tartan Leisure Limited

Ury Estate Limited (part of FM Group)

Albrighton Roses Limited

The English Benedictine Congregation

Highlands of Scotland Sporting Estates Partnership

Ark Hill Wind Farm Limited

Hudson Hirsel LLP

Work highlights

  • Acting for a number of tenant farmers in a significant and high profile judicial review which, ultimately, seeks compensation from the Scottish Government following introduction of legislation affecting property rights in farming partnerships.
  • Advising Dunrobin Highland Distillery Limited on the development of a craft malt whisky and gin distillery and visitor centre in the former Dunrobin Castle powerhouse.
  • Acting for RT Overseas Settlement in connection with the creation of a new settlement of circa 900 units on the western edge of Inverness.
  • Advised on the corporate sale of a renewable energy company, following an auction process, at a total price of £17m.
  • Advising Ury Estate in Aberdeenshire regarding a dispute with BP Exploration Operating Company, former owners of the Forties pipeline, which runs over Ury Estate.


Lindsays' agriculture and estates team is run by Michael Yellowlees, who acts for a number of large landed estates and is frequently involved in the sale of farmland and forestry, in addition to the purchase of agricultural and residential land. In the renewables sector, the team has been working with developers and landowners on a major electricity project, and acting for a clean energy company in negotiations with landowners regarding rights for access and services. Yellowlees has a niche in feudal dignities - an area in which he is described as 'the leading lawyer in this field of practice'.

Practice head(s):

Michael Yellowlees


“A very responsive team with good turn around times who provided us with high quality advice on a complex matter.”

“This is the world’s leading practice with respect to the sale and acquisition of legitimate Scottish baronial titles, as well as with respect to the representation of Scottish barons generally. Michael Yellowlees is simply the leading lawyer in this field of practice.”

Key clients

His Grace, Torquhil Campbell, 13th Duke of Argyll, Chief of Clan Campbell, Argyll Estates

Professor George Everly, eminent American psychologist

William Astor, 4th Viscount Astor, Tarbert Estate

Donald Cameron of Lochiel, Lord of Lochaber, Chief of the Clan Cameron, Achnacarry and Lochiel Estates

Alan MacKay, Earl of Breadalbane

Alex Howard, 5th Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal, Colonsay Estate

Robin Maclean of Ardgour, 18th Laird and Chief of Clan Maclean, Ardgour Estate

The Christie Family, Lochdochart Estate, Crianlarich, Perthshire

Fothringham Estate Company Limited, Fothringham Estate

Thomas Steuart Forthringham, Baron Murthly, Murthly and Strathbraan Estates

Community Wind Power Limited/Community Wein Energy Limited

Scottish Water

The Pairc Trust, community body, Isle of Lewis

Lord Godfrey Macdonald of Macdonald, Chief of Clan Macdonald

Work highlights

  • Advising American and Canadian clients about issues relating to the uniquely Scottish concepts of feudal dignities and Clan Law.
  • Acting for executors in the sale of a prime quality arable farm close to the English border.
  • Acted for landowners who sold a farm in 2016 at which time a dispute was ongoing with the owners of the neighbouring cottages regarding the private water supply.
  • Acted on behalf of Argyll Estates in the transfer of two harbours on the Isle of Tiree to a community body.

Morton Fraser

Morton Fraser advises major public sector clients on renewable energy projects, predominantly involving the development of wind farms, and regularly represents lenders and high net worth individuals in leasing arrangements pertaining to estates and land development. The team has further expertise acting for landlords in the contested termination of agricultural leases, and representing farming partnerships in the sale of assets and the winding up of estates. Accredited specialist James Rust heads up the team, handling transactional work, agricultural and crofting tenancies and land management issues. New partner Linsey Barclay-Smith joined the team from Thorntons Law LLP in late 2018

Practice head(s):

James Rust

Other key lawyers:

Linsey Barclay-Smith

Key clients

Scottish Wildlife Trust

C G Grieg Limited

Balmoral Estates

Newbie Salmon Fisheries (Property) Limited

Scottish Natural Heritage

John Lynch (Builders) Limited

James Christie & Sons

The Scottish Ministers

Arqiva Limited

Yorsipp Trustees Limited

Ministry of Defence

Barclays Bank plc