Back to United Kingdom - Solicitors

Agriculture and estates in South West

Burges Salmon LLP

Acting for an array of high-profile clients, Burges Salmon LLP's agriculture and estates practice continues to grow. The sizeable team is notable for its diversity of specialities, with individual lawyers focusing on landed estates, farms, agricultural disputes and tax.  Practice head Tom Hewitt focuses on managing tax, trusts and property advice for landed estates. Sian Edmunds has a practice covering the 'farm to fork' spectrum, handling both contentious and regulatory matters for landowners, agri-businesses and producers. Emma Folkes and Ross Simpson are specialists in agricultural tenancies and highly technical property law. Tim Williams offers a practice focus on the taxation of developable land.

Practice head(s):

Tom Hewitt

Other key lawyers:

Emma Folkes; Sian Edmunds; Ross Simpson; Tim Williams; Kevin Kennedy; Jim Aveline; Alastair Morrison; Maddie Dunn

Testimonials

‘A proven team who demonstrate technical expertise in their area which is unrivalled by most. They can navigate technical complexities and explain to the layman in a comprehensive but understandable way with good client care.’

‘Tom Hewitt and Tim Williams are both technically excellent in their field and look after their clients with great care and availability. They respond in a timely manner providing solutions to difficult areas.’

‘Simply the best in their field. No one else knows agricultural disputes like they do.’

‘Sian Edmunds – an absolute star in this field, who combines legal expertise with a real instinct for her clients’ needs. Maddie Dunn is a star of the future who already has excellent tactical nous.’

‘The go to firm for rural property advice with a full breadth of service lines to deal with any legal matter, Burges Salmon are the one stop shop. Excellent at cross-team collaboration.’

‘I value Tom Hewitt’s ability to make elderly members of the family feel that he has their interest at heart whilst at the same time being able to advise me on issue that affect the day to day business. It helps that he came initially from a land agency background, albeit some time ago and therefore understands the underlying business from both farmer and landlord perspectives.’

‘Kevin Kennedy is great at managing his team. Maddie Dunn is efficient and has excellent insight into strength and weakness of positions.’

Key clients

The Crown Estate

National Trust

John Lewis Partnership/Waitrose

HSBC

Environment Agency

Earl of Plymouth

South Yorkshire Pensions Authority

The Woodland Trust

Yeo Valley

Watson’s Dairy

Work highlights

  • Advised the successful trustees of a landed estate in Rees v Earl of Plymouth in relation to the trustees’ development of a part of their estate outside Cardiff.
  • Represented Watson’s Dairy in a multimillion-pound dispute with multiple milk producers concerning the early termination of supply contracts due to Covid-19 related price changes.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

With a highly respected team spread across Cheltenham, London and Guildford, Charles Russell Speechlys LLP expertly handles tax, property, estate planning and agricultural law for high-value clients. Henry Fea leads the landed estates and heritage property practice, while the tenured Christopher Page head up its succession team. Tristram van Lawick offers expertise in agricultural law and advises his clients on a variety of estate management and transactional matters. Recently promoted legal director Alexander Caton is also regarded for his experience advising investors in landed estates, tax planning, and estate strategy.

Practice head(s):

Henry Fea

Other key lawyers:

Alexander Caton; Tristram van Lawick; Christopher Page; Katie Talbot

Testimonials

‘Knowledge and experience of lots of different and technical areas.’

‘High level of technical knowledge.’

‘Very efficient. Good communicators and problem solvers. Quick response time. Well resourced and consistently reliable. A good balance of speed and thoroughness. ’

‘ They are very good at what they do ’

‘ Katie Talbot is very calm, capable, efficient, grasp of detail. I can’t praise her too highly.’

Work highlights

  • On behalf of rhree generations of a family, planned and implemented the establishment of a long-term tax-efficient Balfour-inspired structure to hold a diversified agricultural and commercial estate, and advised on refinancing and further agricultural/commercial activities.
  • Acted for an UHNW individual on the acquisition of a significant landed estate.
  • Advised a trust on the implementation of an AHA tenancy restructuring across the estate.

Michelmores LLP

Michelmores LLP's agriculture team has a strong track record of work on contentious matters, representing both large and small clients across a range of disputes covering agricultural holdings, partnerships and landlords and tenant matters. It has additional strength in non-contentious work with a focus on sustainability, such as Rachel O’Connor's work developing a roadmap for commercial insect protein feed for Tesco and the WWF. Ben Sharples, Vivienne Williams and Christian Massey lead the team; associate Charlotte Razay is highly regarded for her litigation work, while the dual-qualified Adam Corbin has expanded his work managing agricultural disputes.

Practice head(s):

Ben Sharples; Vivienne Williams

Other key lawyers:

Tom Hyde; Charlotte Razay; Rachel O’Connor; Adam Corbin

Testimonials

‘Tom Hyde is a senior greatly experienced practitioner who calls the shots.’

‘The team has great strength and depth across all required elements of agriculture and estates, including significant contentious/litigation expertise.’

‘Experts in their chosen fields of law. Recognised regionally and nationally with a good profile through technical marketing publications and seminars’

‘Viv Williams, Tom Hyde, Ben Sharples and Charlotte Razay impress with good support teams’

‘Michelmores stand out in the South West as specialists in agricultural work. In my experience, their level of knowledge in this area puts them above any other firm. They seem to have a particular specialism in proprietary estoppel disputes in a farming context but I have also been impressed with their overall level of knowledge and experience of all aspects of agricultural disputes. They also have in-house counsel who specialises in agricultural work.’

‘Charlotte Razay is very hardworking and dedicated to her clients. I have found that she takes a very commercial approach and aims to achieve a quick and efficient resolution of a dispute. She is also extremely approachable and easy to work with. Adam Corbin has a very impressive knowledge of agricultural law and is robust in his approach to achieving the best outcome for his client.’

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

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

Key clients

Vivienne Parker

Large Development Company in North West

Selkley Vale Milk Group

William Carr

Forestry Commission

World Wildlife Fund /Agricultural Development & Advisory Service

Hertfordshire County

Beti Davies

Clinton Devon Estates (Lower Otter Restoration Project)

Work highlights

  • Acting with Weightmans LLP as the sole supplier of Legal Services to the Forestry Commission.
  • Advised both WWF and Tesco in developing a roadmap for commercialising the production of insect protein for animal feed in the UK.
  • Acting for Clinton Devon Estates in securing a partnership agreement for the project ‘Promoting Adaptation to Changing Coastlines’ with the Environment Agency.

Thrings LLP

The agriculture and rural affairs team at Thrings LLP offers strong advisory and contentious support to agricultural organisations, landed estates and individual clients. The well regarded Russell Reeves frequently represents high-profile clients in lengthy cases. Another key litigator is Robert James, who handles trusts and partnership disputes, with a particular speciality in proprietary estoppel claims. Practice head Duncan Sigournay's non-contentious work focuses on agricultural property matters, with an emphasis on tenancies, transactions and easements.

Practice head(s):

Duncan Sigournay

Other key lawyers:

Russell Reeves; Robert James; Neil Barbour

Testimonials

‘The team works with professionalism, empathy and answers any problems swiftly.’

‘As a small company facing a covenant dispute, we were treated with the utmost courtesy and efficiency by the team at Thrings – it was most reassuring to know that we had such a professional outfit on our side. Every transaction was executed with maximum efficiency; billing was prompt and clearly detailed and all communication excellent.’

‘Although our small case developed into something of a complex and contentious one, having the invaluable support and advice of Russell Reeves made the process far less daunting. We received excellent advice at every stage and he took great trouble to respond promptly to every query – no matter how small – in a most friendly and approachable manner. Throughout the whole process it was a privilege to have him in our corner.’

‘Excellent service – especially from Duncan Sigournay.’

‘Great team and a good range of experience. Clearly personable individuals;  very professional and very knowledgeable.’

Key clients

National Farmers Union (NFU)

Country Land and Business Association (CLA)

The Badminton Estate

Denhay Farms Ltd Countryside Education Trust

EU Plants Ltd

Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal Trust

DJ Houghton Catching Services Ltd

Koppert

Work highlights

  • Won a £10m proprietary estoppel claim/farm partnership dispute in the Court of Appeal.
  • Won a £9m proprietary estoppel claim in the High Court.
  • Acting for clients in a proprietary estoppel claim appeal to the Supreme Court.

Trethowans LLP

Trethowans LLP offers its agricultural clients a wide variety of specialist services. Marcus Thorpe and Amanda Inch focus on transactional work, including property and equine transactions. Emma Earp focuses on working with banks as agricultural lenders. Mihiri Gajraj focuses on the private wealth offering, including offshore trusts and assets. The team also has offerings for partnerships and tenancies work, across farming, equestrian and sporting issues. Thorpe, Earp and Gajraj all co-head the practice, alongside Kathryn Casey-Evans and Kelvin Farmaner, from offices in Salisbury, Bournemouth and Southampton.

Practice head(s):

Marcus Thorpe; Mihiri Gajraj; Emma Earp; Kathryn Casey-Evans; Kelvin Farmaner

Other key lawyers:

Amanda Inch

Testimonials

‘Very professional, nothing too much trouble, would always call out of hours if necessary ’

‘Very personable and responsive.’

‘Honest, practical advice and a nice personal touch.’

‘A local firm with a national reach. Excellent at seeing the big picture.’

‘Marcus Thorpe leads a great team. Rebecca Gillard is meticulous in her attention to detail and a very capable pair of hands to have on the team’

‘They’re knowledgable and experienced, but most of all they’re “on it”. They know how to handle difficult clients and provide the service demanded. Being available to take a call to solve a problem and staying late to get the work done is such a valuable trait of the team.’

‘What I need is focus when the pressure is on, knowledge and experience, availability at all times and a measured style to guide the most demanding of clients. Marcus Thorpe is this and more.’

‘Trethowans is a small but personable law firm offering a variety of services. Their agriculture and rural property team are fantastic. I have been impressed with the transparency on their billing and also their flexibility.’

Key clients

Agricultural Mortgage Corporation

Lloyds Bank

Hampden Bank

James Hay Pension Trustees Limited

Belport Investments Limited

Strutt & Parker Farms Limited

Drew Family Partnership

Work highlights

  • Providing the Agricultural Mortgage Company independent advice in respect of applications made by borrowers for a variety of agreements, including farm tenancies.
  • Acting for the Trustees of the Tory MA Settlement as landowners in connection with the grant of an Option for a 200 acre Solar Farm.
  • Assisted with the retirement of the Drew Family Partnership’s senior partner.

Ashfords LLP

The expanding agricultural team at Ashfords LLP offers a diverse set of services to clients, across property, corporate, regulatory and contentious matters. The practice, which has been growing its client base, has recently brought in three new partners, most notably Susie Murray, who joined from Stephens Scown LLP, where she headed up the rural team in Devon. She focuses on property law, with a niche focus on equestrian matters. Darren Blackburn heads the practice from its Exeter office, with an emphasis on property transactions for companies and high-net-worth individuals. Jonathan Hickman is also regarded for his wide-ranging expertise in private client matters.

Practice head(s):

Darren Blackburn

Other key lawyers:

Susie Murray; Warren Reid; Jonathan Hickman; David Wood; Tom Biddick

Testimonials

‘Warren Reid is an excellent team player and communicator. I key attribute when dealing with complex matters is to bring the right people together to jointly deliver a result – Warren is excellent is achieving this.

‘Good focus on private client, rural land and estates work’

‘Jonathan Hickman very responsive and enthusiastic to satisfy client needs.’

‘David Wood is very efficient and thorough at delivering advice.’

Work highlights

  • Advising Welton Group’s owners and directors on the restructuring of the Quarrying Recycling and landfill businesses including re-financing and land acquisition.
  • Administered the deceased Mrs Y’s estate, which included a share in a farm.
  • Advised the client on a partnership agreement to secure the succession of the business to the client’s son.  

Clarke Willmott LLP

Clarke Willmott LLP's agricultural team offers a broad range of services for clients which include farmers, agri-businesses, landed estates and institutional landowners. Areas of expertise include tax and trusts, property and family, with a new emphasis on the interaction between agriculture and green energy. Tim Hayden leads the agricultural team, with significant regulatory experience, while Esther Woolford leads on the litigation side. Rod Lloyd-Jones works on non-contentious matters, specialising in agricultural property transactions, while associate Polly Ridgway specialises in agri-business disputes and property litigation.

Practice head(s):

Tim Hayden

Other key lawyers:

Rod Lloyd-Jones; Polly Ridgway; Esther Woolford; Mark Buckerfield; Paul Hazeldine

Testimonials

‘In-depth knowledge of the specific area of law. Excellent and considered advice. Good availability.’

‘Clarke Willmott is regarded as the best firm in my area.  It has been proven time and time again this firm will always get good results for you.’

‘A consistent team with fantastic knowledge and expertise in agricultural legal aspects, and a good understanding of client needs.’

‘Approachable and understandable expertise’

‘Great client service’

‘Commercially savvy, fight hard for their clients.’

‘Overall, we felt that the team genuinely cared about our case and related very well to the significance of the case to how it personally affected the different businesses involved.’

Key clients

Andrew Guest

NFU members

David Gillbard

Havard

KS Coles Partnership

Work highlights

  • Advised Andrew Guest on a proprietary estoppel claim for an equitable interest in a family farm and business, valued at £3.3m.
  • Advising and representing NFU members in an action for mis-selling of agri-finance products including misrepresentation, and breaches of consumer credit legislation
  • Acting for a group of 16 dairy farmers in a claim brought against them by Watson’s Dairies Limited following their services of notice to terminate production contracts.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP's Bristol agriculture, farms and estates team is part of a large national practice easements, sales, tenancies and purchases for a variety of clients including farms, landed estates and banks. It has solid relationships with many trusts and charities, for whom it focuses on land development and sales. The practice is led by Simon Kirkup in Newcastle; key figures in Bristol include the 'very experienced and knowledgeable' senior counsel Robert Drewett, and Laura Brodie, who specialises in property transactions.

Practice head(s):

Robert Drewett; Simon Kirkup

Other key lawyers:

Laura Brodie

Testimonials

‘A very experienced and knowledgeable team who are all very supportive of each other.’

‘Robert Drewett is very experienced and knowledgeable; always willing to help and seek out answers to questions. Nothing is too much trouble.’

 

Key clients

National Trust

Grainger PLC

Church Commissioners

English Heritage

The Society of Merchant Venturers

St Monica Trust

National Farmers Union

Agricultural Mortgage Corporation

RwE

Blanchards Bailey LLP

Blanchards Bailey LLP's agricultural practice focuses on working with individual farmers and businesses on a range of issues. With offices across rural Dorset, the firm has experience with a variety of agricultural and business matters including partnerships, renewable energy, and commercial contracts. Practice head Paul Dunlop specialises in partnership, boundary and land disputes. Recently promoted partner Robin Cole offers expertise in land development and farm diversification.

Practice head(s):

Paul Dunlop

Other key lawyers:

Robin Cole; Jerome Dodge; Sarah Dunlop

Testimonials

‘The team can cover all aspects of legal matters by calling on different members of the team, meaning that you only to deal with one organisation.’

‘The individuals I have dealt with have always been efficient at what they are dealing with.’

Work highlights

  • Safeguarded a client’s ownership of a woodland and negotiated a commercial deal whereby the opposition bought it for about £2m.
  • Advised a group of trust inheritors on the winding up of a trust and disputed Agricultural Holdings Act tenancy.
  • Provided tax and trust advice which saved the client in excess of £500,000.

Coodes Solicitors

The firm of choice for a variety of high-profile farming families in Devon and Cornwall, Coodes Solicitors offers clients expertise across a broad array of rural law matters. Though much of its work is in farm sales, it has additional experience in disputes, partnerships, wills and estate planning. The practice is headed by Pam Johns, whose practice focuses on complex farm transactions and inheritances.

Practice head(s):

Pam Johns

Other key lawyers:

Lisa Robinson; Kirsty Davey

Testimonials

‘Pam Johns is a very personable solicitor – she is always happy to give advice and talk through matters and is knowledgeable in her field of agricultural property law.’

Work highlights

  • Advising a client on a complex farm purchase and land sale, worth in excess of £4m.
  • Prepared governing documents for a farm partnership and limited company on behalf of a farm business valued at between £10m and £20m.
  • Acting for buyers of a £1.5m farm who had no agricultural knowledge or experience.

Foot Anstey

Foot Anstey's farms, estate and rural land team offers clients expertise in a variety of family and business law matters. While its core work is in property transactions, disputes and succession, it has a growing practice in telecoms work, including Electronic Communications Code cases. Experienced litigator Edward Venmore leads the practice area, while senior associate Danielle Spalding focuses on telecoms and agricultural disputes.

Practice head(s):

Edward Venmore

Other key lawyers:

Danielle Spalding

Testimonials

‘Good scope of work areas and professionals’

‘Very helpful and knowledgable’

‘Edward Venmore really gets on top of the factual and legal complexities, and really looks after his clients, thinking of all those extra points to take which can make a real difference to the outcome.

‘Knowledge, confidence and reliability. Not just an ordinary 9-5 legal practice but one where at least one member of the team is always available 24/7.’

‘Edward Venmore is an exceptional individual. He has a unique knowledge of agricultural holdings legislation and his advice is always 100% spot on. Credit must also go to his support team, especially Danielle Spalding.’

‘Foot Anstey’s farming team has real expertise in the sector.’

‘Edward Venmore and Danielle Spalding are both effective lawyers and very knowledgeable about their sector. They are very pleasant to work with.’

‘Foot Anstey have a very professional team, all of whom a pleasure to work with and have customer service at their heart, always prepared to go the extra mile and very approachable. They have an excellent range of specialists in the agri-food, energy and land-use sectors, pertinent to the nature of our business and those we represent.’

Key clients

NFU

Lloyds Banking Group

St Aubyn Estate

Bolitho Estate

Mr R Keast

Work highlights

  • Advised a client on a long-running Agricultural Holdings Act dispute ending in arbitration and court proceedings.
  • Advised a client on the lease renewal for a Vodafone telecommunications mast and referred matter to a tribunal.

Mogers Drewett LLP

Mogers Drewett LLP's agricultural team can draw on experience from a variety of practice areas, across private client and commercial property. As well as expertise in drawing up succession plans, it has a notable niche practice area in public rights of way and access to land. This is led by practice head Jonathan Cheal who has additional experience in broader property law matters. Rebecca Beresford leads the private client arm of the team.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Cheal

Other key lawyers:

Rebecca Bersford; Frank Collins

Testimonials

‘Our relationship with Mogers Drewett has been longstanding and always very professional. Correspondence is extremely professional and timely and the firm has always gone out of its way to put its best foot forward for us as a client. ’

‘Jonathan Cheal is an asset to any rural company. His knowledge about law and in general history of the law and the locations he has advised us on is staggering.’

‘A longstanding local firm with a good client base. Strength in depth provided by a large and strong range of other departments within the firm. ’

‘Frank Collins is a very experienced, knowledgeable and practical agricultural conveyancer with a can do attitude. He has a good working knowledge of BPS, covenants, lenders criteria and overage clauses.’

Stephens Scown LLP

With offices in Exeter, Truro and St Austell, Stephens Scown LLP offers a wide array of advice to farmers and agri-businesses, handling a range of property and finance matters. Practice head Phil Reed handles wealth protection and succession planning matters for farmers and other large landowners. Other key lawyers include Kate Theophilius, who focuses on non-contentious property law, and Ian Thomas, who leads the firm's contentious practice with expertise in property litigation. Former partner Susie Murray moved to Ashfords in April of 2020.

Practice head(s):

Phil Reed

Other key lawyers:

Kate Theophilius; Ian Thomas

Trowers & Hamlins LLP

The Exeter-based team at Trowers & Hamlins LLP has significant experience managing property transactions, negotiating rights of way, estate planning and advising on tenancies for its rural clients. It also has a niche in sporting rights work and a growing specialist team dedicated to renewable energy. Nicola Janus-Harris leads the team with experience in agricultural property law, while Helen Honeyball focuses on high-value estate planning.

Practice head(s):

Nicola Janus-Harris

Other key lawyers:

Helen Honeyball; Frank Cook

Testimonials

‘Communication is excellent. I always know what things are going to cost and I always know what they need and I always know what they expect of me and what I have to do’

‘They understand my business. ’

‘We found all the staff with whom we dealt to be extremely professional and helpful.’

‘All queries were dealt with in a prompt, courteous and efficient manner. Unfamiliar procedures were explained and made easy to understand. We were very impressed with the availability of staff to answer queries.’

‘An excellent national coverage with local connections makes this practice very well placed to service a range of rural and agricultural clients effectively and efficiently. ’

‘Nicola Janus-Harris is very focused on the client’s needs and has excellent knowledge of the sector. Her expertise ensures the clients get the right results.’

Work highlights

  • Refinancing significant land holding including unregistered land, agricultural buildings and cottage subject to agricultural ties.
  • Drafting farming partnership agreement, bringing in two new family members to the partnership, giving inter-generational advice to the partners regarding its operation going forward.
  • Advising a family on how to administer an estate in relation to inheritance tax and potential capital gains tax of selling the land.

Willans LLP

Robin Beckley heads the agricultural and estates team at Willans LLP, leveraging his significant experience in rural and city fringe property transactions. While the practice focuses on the purchase and sale of large estates, it provides a full service for clients by leaning on the wider firm's expertise across other practice areas. Adam Hale advises a range of rural estates, investors and institutional landowners.

Practice head(s):

Robin Beckley

Other key lawyers:

Adam Hale

Testimonials

‘Adam Hale has dealt with complicated building plot sales and refinancing of commercial property.’

‘Willans is a high-quality regional firm with good specialists across a range of disciplines ’

‘Robin Beckley is a highly experienced conveyancer who has provided a good service dealing with a complex agricultural sale. Robin was always very accessible and responsive. I think he relished the challenges. I appreciated his advice which was always timely and well-considered.’

‘The practice is extremely knowledgeable in agricultural and rural matters. The advice is always sensible, well-considered and timely. I would strongly recommend the practice.’

‘Robin Beckley always makes time to discuss issues. Most importantly, he listens to all aspects and circumstances before giving his advice.

‘A very good agriculture team.’

‘Robin Beckley is a good and trusted solicitor who has done our work for a long time.’

‘Key strengths of the practice include a full complement of experts available to advise on most of my client’s needs. All of my interactions have yielded first-class technical advice presented in an unstuffy manner. ’