Agriculture and estates in South West

Burges Salmon LLP

Burges Salmon LLP provides specialist advice to their high-profile clients, from agri-businesses to landowners and landed estates. Advising on both national and cross-border matters, the team’s expertise extends to all aspects of food and agricultural law. Practice head Tom Hewitt - who sits on the Country Landowners’ Association national taxation committee - specialises in tax, trust and property advice. Kevin Kennedy, whose regular workload includes tenancy advice and real property disputes, is noted for his ‘technical knowledge and expertise.’ Other notable individuals include Emma Folkes, Ross Simpson, Tim Williams, and Maddie Dunn.

Practice head(s):

Tom Hewitt

Other key lawyers:

Kevin Kennedy; Emma Folkes; Ross Simpson; Tim Williams; Maddie Dunn; Peter Roberts


‘A stand-out offering of magic circle quality without the equivalent billing. Matthew Walker is fabulous on the law and has excellent judgment.’  

‘I not only value Kevin’s technical knowledge and expertise, but also his unflappable approach coupled with confident advice.’

‘Great team structure and team work ethic – particularly led by Ross Simpson.’ 

‘The team at Burges Salmon has not only been instrumental in resolving two very difficult cases for me, but because of their strength and depth of knowledge they are willing and able to offer sound advice to impromptu queries, which has proved key in de-escalating what would otherwise have been a serious issue at senior leader level.’

‘I have found Kevin Kennedy and his team at Burges Salmon to offer an exceptional service. Without Kevin’s sound professional advice and expertise, I believe we would have struggled to deliver a positive outcome on two difficult cases.’

‘Emma Bean has a tenacious eye for detail, leaving no stone unturned.’

‘Their speed of work combined with very thorough and efficient working has been a very refreshing experience, and resulted in significant cost savings to myself.’

‘This practice is unique due to the high level of expertise and the dedication of the team members. As a client, I have complete confidence in any advice given and the knowledge that it will be delivered swiftly. I have yet to find any practice that comes anywhere near the level of service that this team provides. Tom Hewitt is exceptional.’

Key clients

The Crown Estate

National Trust

The Woodland Trust

Yeo Valley – including family farming business

The Leckford Estate, owned by John Lewis/Waitrose

Environment Agency

Earl of Plymouth Estates

Work highlights

  • Advised Earl of Plymouth and other trustees in the high-profile case of Earl of Plymouth v Rees.
  • Acting for a major minority shareholder in a group of interconnected family companies.
  • Advised a charitable foundation on the acquisition of all eight of its initial diverse and interesting sites around the British Isles covering over 15,000 acres.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

Drawing praise for its ‘technical excellenceCharles Russell Speechlys LLP has a highly regarded agricultural practice, comprising a team who are capable of providing expert advice on a range of services, including property law and estate planning. The broad agriculture practice is noted for its work with large landed estates and high-net-worth individuals, as well as its work on cross-border matters. The practice is led by Henry Fea and Tristam Van Lawick. Other notable individuals include Christopher Page and Kate Eckley. The ‘excellent’ Katie Talbot is also recommended.


Practice head(s):

Henry Fea; Tristram van Lawick

Other key lawyers:

Christopher Page; Katie Talbot; Kate Eckley


‘High-quality advice on landed estates both in terms of technical excellence and ability to communicate this in an understandable way.’

‘Katie Talbot is excellent; combines legal and tax knowledge to an exceptional standard.’

‘Experts in rural property and transactions. Focussed on getting the deal through and listen to clients needs and advise accordingly.’

‘Tristram Van Lawick is exceedingly knowledgeable and diligent.’

‘Kate Eckley has a refreshing approach – really listening to clients needs and advising accordingly.’

Work highlights

  • Acted for a private family in the acquisition of a £20m landed estate.
  • Advised family members and trustees on a family dispute and buy-out options relating to a significant landed estate.
  • Advised family members and trustees on succession, restructuring and a family constitution following the death of the previous generation of custodians of a landed and urban estate.

Michelmores LLP

Described by some clients as ‘one of the leading firms in this practice area’, Michelmores LLP maintains a sizable team of experts who are well-placed to advise on practical and commercial matters. The team is led by Ben Sharples and Vivienne Williams. Sharples is an expert in cross-sector contentious work, while Williams specialises in contentious agricultural matters. Other key team members include Adam Corbin, Rachel O’Connor, and Charlotte Razay: Corbin has broad knowledge of the sector and specialises in agricultural disputes; O’Connor advises on a broad spectrum of complex, contentious rural matters; and Razay is noted for her litigation experience.

Practice head(s):

Ben Sharples; Vivienne Williams

Other key lawyers:

Rachel O’Connor; Charlotte Razay; Josie Edwards; Raj Kaur


‘Michelmores’ agricultural property litigation team is unquestionably the market leader. It has an unrivalled depth of expertise in all areas of agricultural law, particularly Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 matters and proprietary estoppel disputes.’

‘I feel reassured when I am instructed by them, as I know things will come to me very well-prepared and managed.’

‘One of the leading firms in this practice area, with a number of very experienced solicitors who know a great deal about agricultural disputes.’

‘Ben Sharples is an outstanding solicitor and tactician with an excellent grasp of the law and of the technical aspects of agriculture and property. The best there is.’

‘Impressive capacity and capabilities.’

‘Vivienne Williams is an absolute leader in her field, with an awesome reputation across the agricultural property world. She is extremely personable, but also completely unflappable and focused on the task at hand.’

Key clients

Forestry Commission

Clinton Devon Estates

Environment Bank Limited

Hestercombe Garden Trust Limited

Pontypool Park Estate

Nijjar Group Holdings Acton Limited

Bradford Estates

Foundation for Common Land

Avon Needs Trees

FWAG (Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group)

Work highlights

  • Acted for the Defendants in the reported case of Williams v Williams and Others [2022] concerning an agricultural partnership dispute and claims in proprietary estoppel following the death of one of the partners.
  • Advised the Forestry Commission concerning the first nutrient neutrality deal to be finalised in England.
  • Advised the Foundation for Common Land (FFCL) in relation to two pilot projects in the New Forest and Malvern Hills AONB in the context of DEFRA’s Landscape Recovery Scheme Test and Trial projects.

Thrings LLP

Thrings LLP's reputable agricultural practice is underpinned by its ‘very experienced and knowledgeable’ team. The firm acts for a range of high-profile clients, from some the UK’s major banks to landed estates and family businesses. The practice is led by Duncan Sigournay who specialises in agricultural property matters, dealing with both contentious and non-contentious matters. Russell Reeves - regarded as a ‘master tactician’ - serves as head of the agricultural litigation team at the firm. Other key figures include Robert James, noted for his expertise in proprietary estoppel claims, and Neil Barbour, an expert in the acquisition and disposal of farms.

Practice head(s):

Duncan Sigournay

Other key lawyers:

Russell Reeves; Robert James; Neil Barbour


‘Thrings is a versatile and friendly practice.’

‘Russell Reeves is friendly; always able to explain things and listen. He is able to absorb information – no matter how complex – and give balanced advice.’

‘Jonathan Thompson dealt with a complex agricultural land acquisition which changed parameters as it progressed. At each step and turn, Jonathan was able to advise me and deal with the situation.’

‘Very experienced and knowledgeable in the area of agricultural disputes. Russell Reeves is a master tactician and a great pleasure to work with.’ 

Key clients

National Farmers Union (NFU)

Country Land and Business Association (CLA)

The Badminton Estate

The UK’s major banks

Denhay Farms Ltd

Countryside Education Trust

EU Plants Ltd

Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal Trust

DJ Houghton Catching Services Ltd


Work highlights

  • Won the Supreme Court proprietary estoppel case and appeal in Guest v Guest which took place in December 2021.
  • Represented the defendants in a multi-million-pound proprietary estoppel claim concerning farmland and quarries in Lincolnshire due for trial in June 2023.
  • Won the appeal in a £10 million proprietary estoppel claim in the Court of Appeal.

Ashfords LLP

Ashfords LLP is a strong choice for clients seeking assistance on property transactional work, contentious trusts and probate, secured lending, and environmental compliance matters. The team, which ‘deploys IQ and EQ in spades’, is led by Susie Murray, a fellow of the Agricultural Law Association who is noted for her expertise across rural affairs. The 'hugely knowledgeable' Jonathan Hickman advises on a range of private client matters, including complex wills.

Practice head(s):

Susie Murray

Other key lawyers:

Darren Blackburn; Jonathan Croley; Jonathan Hickman; Frances Griffiths; Michael Alden


‘All of the Ashfords team are approachable and knowledgeable – Jonathan Croley has been excellent.’

‘One can have a conversation with them and they understand the ultimate objective of the matter they are working on. They deploy IQ and EQ in spades.’

‘Specifically Jonathan Hickman and Michael Alden are hugely knowledgeable and demonstrate the use of soft skills that raise their impact above the norm.’

‘The people and the culture. Ashfords staff are approachable, knowledgeable, and human.’

Work highlights

Blanchards Bailey LLP

The ‘approachable, professional and proactive’ team at Blanchards Bailey LLP is well placed to assist its client base of rural landowners, farming families and businesses on a range of matters. The team is led by Paul Dunlop who has more than two decades of experience in civil litigation and agricultural disputes. Jerome Dodge is especially well versed in wills and estate planning work, while Lucy Mignot deals exclusively with contentious trust and probate and Court of Protection matters.

Practice head(s):

Paul Dunlop

Other key lawyers:

Jerome Dodge; Lucy Mignot; Sarah Dunlop


‘The team at Blanchards Bailey is approachable, professional and proactive in helping clients with a range of matters that impact on rural businesses.’

‘Sarah Dunlop is always very helpful and is very good at supporting clients through difficult transactions. Sarah has a sound understanding of rural matters and builds rapport very quickly, putting clients’ minds at ease.’

Key clients

Tarhinton Farms Limited

Stock Gaylard Estate

Work highlights

  • Instructed Stock Gaylard Estate on all of their work, including a large development, succession planning and employment matters.
  • Advised Cossins on a division of trust assets.

Clarke Willmott LLP

Regarded as 'outstanding in the agricultural and estates market', Clarke Willmott LLP fields a ‘highly efficient and knowledgeable‘ team who work with a mix of farmers, rural landowners and agri-food businesses on both contentious and non-contentious matters. Esther Woolford, who heads the team, has extensive experience of dealing with contentious probate matters. Polly Ridgway is an experienced litigator who recently acted as the lading solicitor in the Guest v Guest Supreme Court case.


Practice head(s):

Esther Woolford

Other key lawyers:

Polly Ridgway; Rod Lloyd-Jones; David Maddock; Tom Chiffers; Laura Mackain-Bremner; Robert Mullen; Victoria Howlett; Mark Buckerfield


‘Clarke Willmott is unique in that as a client, I felt highly regarded and valued by everybody I conversed with and they each handled my file very personably, giving me complete confidence in their capabilities.’

‘Highly efficient and knowledgeable. Outstanding in the agricultural and estates market and able to offer proper advice to clients. Mark Buckerfield is an outstanding professional.’

‘Rod Lloyd-Jones and his team have an excellent knowledge of residential and agricultural legal matters which, coupled with the excellent responsiveness help for a really smooth process.’

‘The team have high levels of patience and maintain professionalism at all times. I have worked with them on a number of cases where the opposition are ridiculously difficult to deal with, but the team also kept a level-head throughout.’

‘Whilst this department are very skilled and professional in their industry, they are also very ‘human’ as well, and by this, I mean they are not your traditional work-horse billing machines where work is work; they are engaging with their clients, friendly, and can engage on a personal level as well whilst maintaining their professionalism.’

‘The level of experience and leadership that Esther brings to matters cannot be understated. Esther is a skilled, knowledgeable, and resourceful lawyer.’

‘Clarke Willmott has deep ties to the agricultural community, a solid understanding of their wants and needs, and a knack for translating those needs into digestible legal advice.’

‘Both Laura and Esther make a formidable team which gives you so much confidence and are a pleasure to work with.’

Key clients

Guest V Guest

NFU Members

Duke of Beaufort Hunt

Yeo Valley Associates

Work highlights

  • Acting in Guest v Guest, a proprietary estoppel claim. Issue of quantum (the type and extent of the remedy) has been appealed by the other party (his parents) to the Supreme Court. Judgment in our client’s favour.
  • Acting for NFU Members NFU v Nationwide, a class action against 4 finance companies relating to the mis-selling of finance. Resulted in successful settlement after over 5 years of proceedings and significant negotiations.
  • Acted for the Huntsman and Whipper-In of the Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt when prosecuted for an allegation of illegal hunting. Case discontinued prior to trial after Defence representations.

Foot Anstey

Foot Anstey maintains a strong reputation in the South West, with its specialist team focusing on cases primarily concerning rural property and dispute resolution. Litigation expert Edward Venmore heads up the practice, drawing strong praise for his focus on professional negligence claims, property, and regulatory-related disputes. He works in tandem with Danielle Spalding, a highly regarded managing associate who specialises in rural business and agricultural disputes, 'working tirelessly' for a broad range of clients.

Practice head(s):

Edward Venmore

Other key lawyers:

Jessica Pitt; Anna Parker; Rachel Brooks; Danielle Spalding


‘Edward Venmore is the stand-out partner for me. I have worked with him for years since well before he made partner. His commitment and dedication to finding the right solutions to his client’s problems has always impressed me.’

‘The whole legal team has worked with me in a very complex lengthy farming dispute. Their ability to grasp, understand and moreover unravel the disguise of many difficult issues surrounding this has been impressive. The advice has been clear and thorough. A truly professional and courteous service.’

‘Edward Venmore and Danielle Spalding have both worked tirelessly together collaborating their expert legal knowledge to achieve a conclusive, favourable outcome. They have always shown efficiency and care together with excellent professionalism in their field. They are definitely a dynamic duo.’

All highly professional, with specialist technical experience to our specialist sector in agriculture and related matters.’

‘Correct legal advice, given quickly and in an easy-to-understand way. Sound tactical awareness, especially useful in ADR.’

‘Superb on agricultural matters and clearly understand their clients’ industry and way of life. A least of few of them come from farming backgrounds, which builds trust and allows them to find the right solutions.’

‘A superb team of talented lawyers with strength in depth.’

‘Edward Venmore is a brilliant lawyer who strives tirelessly for his clients and achieves superb results.’

Key clients

National Farmers Union

St Aubyn Estate

Work highlights

Trethowans LLP

Trethowans LLP houses a respected agricultural practice, praised for its 'individual and collective expertise' across a host of matters. The team has developed a true specialism in agricultural and rural matters, advising on a range of matters, including secured lending of banks on agricultural properties, transactional work relating to farms and estates and inheritance tax and capital gains. The team is jointly led by a number of individuals; Marcus Thorpe , Mihiri Gajraj , Steve Cole, Kathryn Evans and Kelvin Farmaner. Kathryn Anderson boosts the firm’s agricultural probate offering.


Practice head(s):

Marcus Thorpe; Mihiri Gajraj; Steve Cole; Kathryn Evans; Kelvin Farmaner

Other key lawyers:

Nick Gent; Amanda Inch; Lucy Gleisner; Grainne Alen-Buckley; Robert Bajaj; Caroline Lindon-Morris; Rebecca Gillard; Sabrina Sleeman-Hiscock


‘They have individual and collective expertise on the whole range of this aspect of work.’

‘Willing to work extremely hard to ensure deadlines were met. Good communication.’

Key clients

Boyden Partnership

Project Kennet

Mr and Mrs Althorp

Mr and Mrs Kent

Slateford Capital S.A.

Mr and Mrs Cornish


Work highlights


The team at Wilsons is praised for its ‘speed of response and appreciation of urgency and client priorities.’ A key port of call for a diverse roster of landed estates, farming families and businesses, charities investors and high-net-worth individuals, the practice regularly utilises experts from the firm’s commercial, corporate and employment teams to aid with agricultural matters. Key names to note include practice head Jane Lonergan, who regularly deals with large and complex land transactions; Sue Russell, experienced in the sale and purchase of farms; and Jon Ashbridge, a commercial partner who focuses on land-based rural businesses.

Practice head(s):

Jane Lonergan

Other key lawyers:

Sue Russell; Jon Ashbridge; Salim Patel; Annie Wills; Helen Lello


‘I have worked with the property team at Wilsons for over 25 years. The team at are highly approachable, personable, and want to understand you and your needs. They are always aware of different family dynamics, personalities and priorities. They treat you as an individual rather than a billing opportunity. Understand issues rapidly and provide often innovative solutions.’

‘Having worked with Sue Pritchett, Sue Russell and Peter Bourke throughout my association with Wilsons they have always managed to find solutions and have been diligent in ensuring documentation and negotiations have progressed flawlessly and rapidly. They have been able to clearly explain clauses and legal jargon in layman’s terms.’

‘Peter Bourke speaks complex law in plain English. He is also a Chartered Surveyor and understands complex rural matters. An exceptionally strong litigation lawyer!’

Work highlights

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

With a strong agricultural offering in the South West, Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP receives regular instructions from public authorities, landowners and banks, who turn to the team for assistance with easements, tenancies, and sales and purchases. Robert Drewett and Simon Kirkup jointly chair the team. Drewett's focus covers all aspects of the management and maximisation of rural land assets, while Kirkup notably acts as a trustee for a number of significant landowning families.


Practice head(s):

Robert Drewett; Simon Kirkup

Other key lawyers:

Laura Brodie; Janice Cowley; Kayleigh Harrison-Dunford

Key clients

National Trust

Grainger PLC

Church Commissioners

English Heritage

The Society of Merchant Venturers

National Farmers Union

Agricultural Mortgage Corporation


Work highlights

  • Advised a longstanding client and private landowner on the sale of a large plot of land in Gillingham, Dorset, to Redrow Homes Southern Counties.

Coodes Solicitors

With key strength in Devon and Cornwall, Coodes Solicitors handles a wide array of rural work for a mix of farmers and landowners. The team act for all manner of rural businesses and individuals, from large landed estates to multi-generational farms. Pam Johns, who heads the team, is noted for her expertise in complex rural properties.


Practice head(s):

Pam Johns

Other key lawyers:

Kevin George; Lisa Robinson; Kirsty Davey; Abi Lutey


‘A friendly and close-knit team. Abi Lutey is kind, hard working and professional.’

‘Always offer a professional, knowledgeable and as importantly a personal service.’

‘Pam Johns and her team have a depth of knowledge and experience in handling the sale of rural property and landed estates.’

‘The partners that I have worked with are very technically competent and approachable. They are all local, so understand the vagaries of the local area and the specifics behind clients’ needs.’

Key clients

Mr & Mrs White

Work highlights

  • Purchased a farm for Mr & Mrs White who then diversified and obtained planning permission for a children’s nursery and preschool. Also drafted a complex lease for the farmhouse, buildings and garden.
  • Acted for Trebartha Estate, where in 2017 it sold a piece of land with some land retained and rights reserved and a positive covenant to construct a road.
  • Advised clients owning a large farm comprising a farmhouse, a separate cottage, and five former outbuildings now used as holiday lets, agricultural barn and farmyard and chalet with stables and agricultural land with a private communal shared access, and communal private water supply from a borehole and water storage tanks.

Mogers Drewett LLP

At Mogers Drewett LLP, the team’s ‘knowledge of all things relating to agricultural law is extensive’. A number of landowners and farmers turn to the firm for its specialist expertise in public rights of way and access to land, where Jonathan Cheal is their best known specialist on the subject. The practice is headed by the 'outstanding' Frank Collins, who has more than three decades of  experience in agricultural and commercial matters.

Practice head(s):

Frank Collins

Other key lawyers:

Jonathan Cheal; Cara Burr; Daniel Cockhead


‘Frank’s knowledge in agricultural and commercial matters is genuine and outstanding.’

‘The people at Mogers Drewett really do work as a team which makes contact quick and easy. The knowledge of all things relating to agricultural law is extensive.’

Work highlights

Porter Dodson

Porter Dodson regularly handles both contentious and non-contentious matters. The team's broad expertise sees it advising farming and landowning clients on deals for strategic land with developers and promoters, succession planning, and the sale and purchase of farms. The practice is spearheaded by Steve Farnham who has extensive experience in acting on complex promotion and option agreements for land with development potential.

Practice head(s):

Steve Farnham

Other key lawyers:

Kate James; Ben Hingley; Tom Mottram; Helen Williams; Gemma Lindegaard; Emma Starr


‘Good regional practice.’

‘Talk the right language to a wide range of clients.’

Work highlights

Stephens Scown LLP

Stephens Scown LLP's broad-based agriculture offering encompasses property and planning law, private client work, matrimonial issues, employment law, and dispute resolution. The team’s advice also extends to non-traditional methods of using rural land, such as renewable energy, leisure, and tourism. Practice head Philip Reed, who regularly handles work for landed estates, is the key name to note.

Practice head(s):

Philip Reed

Other key lawyers:

Kate Theophilus; Scott Mitchell; Nigel Coveney; Susan Reynolds; Richard Bagwell; Ian Thomas; Mark Richardson; Tom Biddick


‘Pragmatic, complete understanding of the client’s aspirations, and able to lead a multi-disciplined team.’

‘In legal negotiations, they have an ability to see both sides and work collaboratively to find a workable solution.’

Work highlights

Trowers & Hamlins LLP

At Trowers & Hamlins LLP, the cross-departmental offering spans property, dispute resolution, private wealth and corporate matters - regularly advising farmers, rural businesses, financial institutions and landowners. Nicola Janus-Harris, who heads the team, is noted for her expertise in dealing with unregistered land and advising and dealing with Farm Business Tenancies (FBTs), while Charisse Crawford's capabilities are concentrated in complex farming estate disputes. Charlotte Brasher is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Nicola Janus-Harris

Other key lawyers:

Charisse Crawford; Holly Byran; Charlotte Brasher


‘A growing team that is making an impact in the South West. Deal with a wide range of work and have some very high-profile clients.’

‘Charlotte Brasher is a partner of the future.’

‘All members of team are fantastic to work with and always quick to respond to requests. All know the sector as well as they know the legal aspects.’

‘Very approachable and easy to work with, with the ability to offer a fantastic service to clients and enable them to understand what is actually happening and the reasons behind it.’

Work highlights

  • Acted on the sale of a dairy farm, bungalow and cabin and surrounding 277 acres of land, including sale of equipment and livestock. This included dealing with application for first registration pre-sale.
  • Acted for Ms H in a claim against the £4.8 million estate of her late unmarried partner, out of which the primary asset was the farm, and negotiating a settlement.
  • Advised a pension fund on the termination of two Agricultural Holdings Act tenancies to allow vacant possession of development site of over 800 properties.

Willans LLP

Willans LLP specialises in non-contentious agricultural work, advising a mix of landowners, farming families and landed estates. The practice draws on the expertise of the firm as a whole, providing clients with a full service offering. The team is headed up by Adam Hale, who has extensive experience of advising rural estates and institutional landowners on the acquisition, disposal, and management of rural land.


Practice head(s):

Adam Hale


‘Responsive, knowledgeable, attentive to clients’ needs, and proactive.’

‘Adam Hale gave a personalised service and undertook actions on his own initiative.’

‘Very straightforward advice. Personal and consistent point of contact.’

Work highlights

  • Acted on the £8.1m purchase of a rural estate comprising a Grade II listed manor house, six let cottages, an extensive range of agricultural buildings, fishing rights and 520 acres of mixed pasture, arable land and protected ancient woodland.
  • Advised a longstanding landowning client in connection with the complex sale of over 13 acres of development land involving multiple parties for an agreed purchase price of close to £7m.
  • Acted for a new landowning client in connection with the grant of an option for lease of agricultural land for development of a commercial battery storage plant. Rent over the full term of the lease is anticipated to exceed £8m.