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United Kingdom > South West > Private client > Agriculture and estates > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

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Index of tables

  1. Agriculture and estates
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Hall of Fame

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Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Agriculture and estates clients in South West using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact david.burgess@legal500.com.

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Burges Salmon LLP is ‘excellent, with extensive and wide-ranging experience in this area'. Recent highlights include two major transactions in the national land market - sales from The Crown Estate at Dunster (comprising some 9,900 acres) and Gopsall.  Sian Edmunds is a ‘first-rate lawyer and litigator’, who is ‘very client focused, hugely experienced and tenacious’. Edmunds specialises in food regulation, but also handles farming and agribusiness contractual disputes, partnership disputes and agricultural tenancy issues; she acts for John Lewis Partnership/Waitrose, The Crown Estate, Gea Farm Technologies, Ornua Foods and Humphreys Feed. Kevin Kennedy has a national reputation for agricultural and private client advice and litigation, with a particular focus on tenancy advice, real property disputes, trust-related disputes and contract and tort claims; his clients include The Crown Estate, The National Trust, and Peel Group. Jim Aveline is a ‘brilliant private client and trust specialist’, and recently advised on a £30m succession plan for a 3,000-cow Dorset dairy farm. The ‘enormously bright’ associate Maddie Dunn is ‘one to watch’. New clients include Worcestershire County Council and the Environment Agency. Tom Hewitt heads up the food and farming as well as estates teams. With her ‘wealth of experience and technical knowledge’, Emma Folkes was made partner in May 2017; she specialises in non-contentious rural property, advising The Crown Estate's Rural Portfolio (for which the firm is sole legal advisor), the National Trust, and The Woodland Trust.

‘Professional and reliable’, Charles Russell Speechlys LLP has a 34-strong team led by the ‘wise and highly experienced’ Christopher Page, who advises estate and private land owners on all aspects, including strategy, succession planning and ownership structures. Christian Massey specialises in large rural property, country house and landed estate transactions across the UK, often with an international dimension. Bringing significant experience from his time in the Geneva office, Henry Fea also advises on landed estates, particularly ones owned by offshore entities, and assists clients with tax, trust and succession matters. Senior associate Tristram van Lawick  and associates Rachel Beeby and Esther Thackery are all ‘excellent in the field of residential, farm and estate conveyancing’.

The Michelmores LLP team is ‘at the top of its game as an agricultural specialist’. Vivienne Williams is ‘very good at managing her clients’ expectations’; she advises on agricultural property disputes, including landlord-tenant and succession, as well as farming partnership disputes, rights of way, contractual disputes, and co-ownership and trust disputes. Williams leads the team with Ben Sharples, who is ‘good all round – approachable, confident in his knowledge of the law and a good negotiator’. He advises on landlord and tenant disputes over both agricultural and residential property. Sharples also has a considerable agribusiness practice, which includes the drafting of milk supply contracts. Peter Williams’ practice primarily focuses on confidential arbitration, however recently he has also been involved in Moore v Moore concerning estoppel in relation to a farm and farming business, which is now going to the Court of Appeal. Williams has ‘exceptional intelligence and pursues his clients’ claims with ruthless efficiency’. Senior associate Adam Corbin  is recommended as both ‘organised and commercial’.

Thrings LLP represent the two largest agricultural membership associations in the UK - the NFU and Country Land and Business Association - and advises the third, the Tenant Farmers Association. Recent work includes a high-value farm partnership dispute, which is listed for appeal at the Court of Appeal in October 2018; Bristol-based head of agricultural litigation Russell Reeves is leading. Reeves brings ‘a very sound grasp of law and procedure and very good judgement’. Neil Barbour heads up the agricultural property team from Bath, specialising in the sale, purchase, and leasing of agricultural property, particularly the acquisition and disposal of high-value farms, estates and country houses. Recommended associate Robert James acts for the defendants in the first-ever High Court claim against a British company in relation to modern slavery. Duncan Sigournay heads up the practice.

Clarke Willmott LLP is ‘excellent in dealing with all aspects of agricultural and estate matters’, and has a sizeable client list that includes the National Farmers Union (a panel appointment for Somerset, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire), Lloyds Banking Group (including AMC) and HSBC. Practice head Tim Hayden handles a range of defence work on behalf of the NFU, often relating to animal welfare and the identification and movement of livestock. Hayden is also experienced in road traffic cases, and is the lead solicitor for the Countryside Alliance, and also assists the Master of Foxhounds Association with hunting issues. Rod Lloyd-Jones provides ‘practical and valuable advice’, and specialises in agricultural property transactions, including the acquisition and disposal of farms and estates and advising on landlord and tenant issues. Lloyd-Jones also acts for many clearing banks in secured lending transactions for their agricultural clients. Mark Buckerfield is ‘exemplary at finding practical solutions, providing well-thought-out and straightforward advice’; Paul Hazeldine has a ‘very thorough approach’; and Esther Woolford is ‘very tenacious in pursuit of her clients' interests’. Associate Robert Mullen is also recommended as ‘extremely thorough and patient’.

Foot Anstey is ‘very good all round’, demonstrating ‘a thorough knowledge of the Agricultural Holdings Act in what is an extremely complex area of the law’. Clients include the National Farmers Union (a panel appointment for Devon and Cornwall), the Tregothnan estate, HSBC, Royal Cornwall Agricultural Association, and Santander Bank. Joel Woolf is head of the agriculture and rural business team and specialises in strategic business advice to farming clients, as well as agricultural recoveries work for receivers and banks. Edward Venmore is ‘technically superb, professional and courteous’, and has extensive experience in commercial litigation, professional negligence claims, and property and regulatory-related disputes; recent work includes an ongoing Agricultural Holdings Act dispute involving arbitration and court proceedings. The firm recently hired senior associate Kit Mordaunt from Everys, who specialises in acting for large landed estates. Legal director George Gilpin joined in May 2017 from Moore Blatch LLP; as a consulting arborist – the only solicitor in the country with formal qualifications in this specialism – Gilpin is particularly knowledgeable in the care and management of trees under tree preservation orders and in conservation areas. Associate Danielle Spalding also handles many of the firm’s highest-profile and most complex matters, and comes recommended.

Clients are ‘very happy with the knowledge base and appropriateness of advice and response times’ delivered by Stephens Scown LLP. Advising on all rural matters, the firm has a special focus on equestrian issues - such as livery and riding establishments, leases of gallops, equestrian facilities and horse loan agreements – and sporting rights, including leases of shooting rights and the acquisition and disposal of fishing and shooting rights. Susie Murray is 'always very personable and positive' and leads the Devon rural team, which ‘is very knowledgeable in all aspects'. Kate Theophilus handles non-contentious agricultural matters, a number of which have been very high profile. Philip Reed leads the Cornwall rural team.

Trethowans LLP is ‘a good regional firm,' with an 'excellent property department' and 'a strong reputation'  in the South West. Clients include Lloyds Bank as well as Clydesdale Bank, which instructed the firm for independent advice regarding the refinance of a farm partition, worth approximately £2.5m. Head of the team Marcus Thorpe is 'a cut above the rest: very proactive, efficient and excellent at giving advice in rural and agricultural property, particularly farmland'; Grainne Alen-Buckley is also highly recommended. Associate Rebecca Gillard has ‘good attention to detail with a balanced pragmatism to getting the matter dealt with effectively'.

Ashfords LLP is an ‘excellent "all-round" law firm': clients have ‘the highest praise for the whole team' and for the 'quality and speed of service'. The team specialises in property transfers, making arrangements for succession planning, and advising on farm-based energy projects. Head of the practice Darren Blackburn 'gets the fundamentals right: fast turnaround, friendly and helpful manner, client availability – all excellent’. Blackburn specialises in the sale, purchase and letting of farms, farmland and large residential properties. Head of the firm's energy and waste team Ruth Murray has significant experience advising agricultural landowners, developers and contractors on energy infrastructure projects in relation to a range of issues, including power purchase agreements, off-take agreements, maintenance contracts and major commercial project agreements, including EPC contracts. Robert Horsey advises on agricultural landlord and tenant disputes, proprietary estoppel claims, and related agricultural disputes. Tom Biddick provides constructive estate planning and succession advice for farmers, and is described by clients as an ‘excellent lead’. Associate Jonathan Croley advises on energy projects (particularly in anaerobic digestion and biomass projects), operation and maintenance contracts and feedstock contracts.

Paul Dunlop heads up the practice at Blanchards Bailey LLP. Jerome Dodge and senior associate Ian Campbell regularly advise farming clients and landowners on estate planning and succession matters; recent work includes advising a Dorset-based farming family on agricultural property relief and business property relief. Lisa Holden specialises in drafting prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements for rural clients. Alan Horne specialises in rural conveyancing transactions, along with solicitor Carla Phillips.

The team at Coodes Solicitors is ‘highly experienced and has deep professional knowledge’. The firm has expertise in commercial property and succession planning, disputes, contentious probate, divorce and crime (e.g. animal welfare and pollution), and typically works for farmers and their families. Clients also include Folk2Folk, Santander, the Fortescue Family, and recently Lloyds Bank. Head of the team Pam Johns is ‘highly efficient and has an excellent reputation’, with ‘a thorough technical knowledge of the current issues’; she covers all aspects of agricultural property, including the buying and selling of farms, the transfer of Single Farm Payment Entitlements, easements, rights of way and the property aspects of rural business transfers. Based mainly in West Devon and Cornwall, the firm operates out of nine offices from Penzance to Holsworthy. The rural team has expanded, following the recent appointments of associate Kirsty McAuley and solicitor Susan Reynolds.

Based in Wotton-under-Edge, Loxley Legal Services LLP is ‘a good firm of rural lawyers’. The specialist seven-partner team is led by Andrew Baskerville who works primarily in the disposal and purchase of large rural estates and development land. Judith Bell is ‘a superb lawyer who acts with determination and alacrity', and provides expertise in farm partnership disputes as well as issues relating to telecoms, utilities and minerals. Pierre Bell is also recommended.

Mogers Drewett LLP is ‘highly responsive and proactive’, providing ‘excellent attention to detail and client care’.  Wells-based solicitor Jonathan Cheal is considered 'an industry leader in his area of expertise’, ‘leaving no stones unturned’ as one of the country’s leading specialists in public rights of way and access to land. Amanda Inch specialises in rural and commercial property matters, with significant expertise in development contracts, options and promotion agreements for both landowners and developers, renewable energy, and commercial leases. Frank Collins heads the practice.

‘Extremely professional and knowledgeable’, clients describe Royds Withy King’s farming and property advice as ‘first class’. Practice head Angus Williams’ ‘knowledge of agriculture and anything legally connected is boundless’. Williams handles acquisition and disposal of farms and estates, development land, and farming and rural business interests; commercial and residential property development; agricultural tenancy work, including Agricultural Holdings Act tenancies and farm business tenancies; and secured lending and re-finance work for banks. Sharon MacDonald specialises in the preparation of cohabitation and prenuptial agreements designed to protect farming partnerships and business assets, and acts on behalf of farmers and family members in divorces involving a farm, farm businesses or farming assets. Bath-based solicitor Alice Newsome is also recommended.

Willans LLP's team is ‘knowledgeable and competent’, and acts for landowners and farming families, and those buying and selling country properties and estates in and around the South West, predominantly in the counties of Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire and the Cotswolds. Head of the team Robin Beckley is ‘very knowledgeable’, ‘sensible in his approach, highly professional and acts swiftly when required to do so’; he has considerable experience in disposing of development land by option, conditional contract, and promotion agreement. The firm holds active panel appointments for Clydesdale Bank and Agricultural Mortgage Corporation.

Peter Bourke leads the team at Wilsons and is recommended for his ‘understanding of clients' needs' and for 'providing sensible, cost-effective advice’. Bourke specialises in tenancy succession claims and claims against the Rural Payments Agency, as well as rights of way and neighbour disputes. Alison Bailey specialises in landowner development and rural property. Associate Tim Olliff-Lee specialises in the sale and purchase of farms and rural property, the leasing of renewable energy sites, and the letting of agricultural land.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP provides ‘expert agricultural and development advice and a good strategic approach’. Clients include the National Trust, English Heritage, the Society of Merchant Venturers, the National Farmers Union, and RwE. Head of the team Robert Drewett is ‘very experienced in tenancy and multi-owner scenarios’; he has expertise in acting for landowners on development deals and acts in connection with the sale and purchase of all kinds of rural property, the letting of land and other rural property, general asset management, the negotiation of minerals leases, the resolution of Agricultural Holdings Act issues, and on behalf of landowning charities. Simon Kirkup also leads the practice.

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Legal Developments in South West 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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