Agriculture and estates in South West

Burges Salmon LLP

Burges Salmon LLP acts for high profile clients, from institutional landowners and estates to agri-businesses, on both national and cross-border matters. The practice is led by Tom Hewitt who is an expert in agriculture and sits on the Country Landowners’ Association national taxation committee. Sian Edmunds is noted for her niche experience in ‘farm to fork’ matters. Emma Folkes, Ross Simpson and Tim Williams are also noted for their expertise in rural affairs.

Practice head(s):

Tom Hewitt

Other key lawyers:

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

Testimonials

‘Ross Simpson is a pleasure to work with and his brilliant character and sense of humour stands out from others and competitors. He practices in both English and Scottish law and this can be a real bonus for clients with assets in the two legal systems.’

‘Ross Simpson is outstanding. He has helped us complete a deal which was threatened by covid.’

‘For a national firm, the team at Burges Salmon provide the service that you are their only client, they know each case inside and out and always have the time to answer your question. They have embraced technology to ensure that an even better service is provided and are willing to work with any profession in collaboration so that the client is provided with the best service possible.’

‘Ross Simpson is an energetic and enthusiastic lawyer with a real passion for his practice area and clients. He provides commercial and practical advice and is able to concisely explain complex legal issues. Ross has quickly become an important external extension of our team.’

‘We would highly recommend Sian Edmunds to friends and family.’.

‘I found Ross Simpson very approachable and adept at explaining what the potential consequences of various scenarios would be to both myself and the landowner. He made himself available at short notice during what was often a fraught negotiation process which was time sensitive.’

Peter Roberts – efficient, helpful, practical, responsive.’

‘Ross Simpson is truly excellent. Incredible knowledge, pace, commitment and legal execution.’

Work highlights

  • Advised Church Commissioners for England on its rural estate including ownership and management matters.
  • Advised The Crown Estate on agricultural and rural law laws pertaining to its Rural and Windsor portfolios.
  • Advised the trustees of a landed estate in the high-profile case of Earl of Plymouth v Rees, including two arbitrations, two High court claims and a High Court trial.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP has a sizeable practice comprising of experts in agricultural property, tax and trusts matters. Its expertise encompass both transactional advice and litigation. Henry Fea leads the practice. Other notable individuals include Christopher Page and Tristam Van Lawick. Page has over 35 years’ of experience and Van Lawick is well versed in strategic and estate management issues.

Practice head(s):

Henry Fea

Other key lawyers:

Christopher Page; Tristram van Lawick; Naomi Nettleton; Katie Talbot; Nigel Edge; Kate Eckley

Testimonials

‘Dedicated, knowledgeable and a helpful team to work with.’

‘Dedicated, knowledgeable and confident.’

‘Very responsive and proactive. Well resourced’.

‘A great all round team able to help with all aspects of rural estates.’

‘Tristram van Lawick – a solid safe pair of hands always there with wise counsel.’

‘A very useful multi-disciplined team with in-depth farming knowledge. Very helpful to have the crossover of litigation, commercial, private client and tax.’

‘Henry Fea is best in breed.’

Work highlights

  • Advised family members and trustees on  matters relating to a landed estate including mitigating inheritance tax liabilities through business property relief, employment matters, pre-nuptial agreements and buying out an interested party.
  • Advised trustees of historic estate in relation to the potential application of  estate duty surviving spouse exemption, ecclesiastical law in relation to church buildings within the grounds, and the loan of a conditionally exempt paining to a leading art museum for study and restoration.
  • Acted for offshore company on the sale of a landed estate and successfully oversaw issues including partially documented private water supplies, incomplete agricultural tenancy history and various title issues.

Michelmores LLP

Michelmores LLP focuses primarily on representing clients in agricultural disputes. Ben Sharples and Vivienne Williams both lead the practice. Adam Corbin is a well experienced litigator, advising on matters involving commerce, property and public law. Rachel O’Connor focuses on sustainable agriculture; Charlotte Razay is noted for her litigation expertise and her establishment of the Women in Rural Practice networking initiative. The team has recently been boosted by a number of recent arrivals, including Christian Massey and Helen Hutton from Charles Russell Speechlys LLP.

Practice head(s):

Ben Sharples; Vivienne Williams

Other key lawyers:

Tom Hyde; Christian Massey; Philip Wolfgang; Adam Corbin; Rachel O’Connor; Charlotte Razay; Josie Edwards; Rajvinder Kaur

Testimonials

‘Large team with great strength and breadth across aspects of the sector. Includes some well known and well regarded individuals.’

‘Vivienne Williams – knowledgeable, experienced, thorough and authoritative with clients. Ben Sharples – very experienced. Clients like his manner. Adam Corbin – excellent with clients and good commercially.’

‘Exceptional knowledge of agricultural law and unparalleled strength in legal interpretation and arguing cases.’

‘Adam Corbin – excellent analytical advice on interpreting tenancies and leases.’

‘The team are responsive, diligent in their approach and timings when dealing with tight time scales and operating under pressure.’

‘A good practical understanding of farmers and rural landowners and the issues that concern them combined with legal analysis and advice and a commercial perspective’

‘Common sense and approachability with an assured knowledge of the sector and how it is changing.

‘Ben Sharples is particularly impressive.’

Key clients

Forestry Commission

Clinton Devon Estates

WWF/ Agricultural Development and Advisory Service (ADAS)

The Environment Bank Limited

Bradford Estates

Hertfordshire County Council

Hestercombe Garden Trust Limited

Pontypool Park Estate

Nijjar Group Holdings Acton Limited

Inspro Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised The Environment Bank on its partnership with Gresham House to introduce a first-to-market compliance solution driving biodiversity net gain.
  • Advised the Forestry Commission on the capitalisation of the River Stour site closure for agricultural purposes.
  • Advised Clinton Devon Estate on the structuring and drafting of a partnership agreement with Environment Agency to deliver the £15m Lower Otter Restoration Project.

Thrings LLP

The team at Thrings LLP are experts in both contentious and non-contentious matters, with a 'fantastic and well-deserved reputation in the whole range of farming disputes.' The practice, which is the trusted adviser to key agricultural membership associations within the UK, is led by Duncan Sigournay; he is an agricultural property specialist and deals with both contentious and non-contentious matters. Russell Reeves is a reputable industry litigator. Robert James is noted for his expertise in property related matters.

Practice head(s):

Duncan Sigournay

Other key lawyers:

Russell Reeves; Robert James; Neil Barbour

Testimonials

‘Russell Reeves has the ability to take on huge amounts of information quickly and give a balanced view in a way that is easy to understand the complexities of the situation.’

‘The firm has a fantastic and well-deserved reputation in the whole range of farming disputes.’

‘Russell Reeves is extremely impressive. He has a depth of knowledge in this area and is always superbly calm and pragmatic.’

‘Very experienced and knowledgeable in the area of agricultural disputes.’

‘Russell Reeves is a master tactician and a great pleasure to work with.’

‘I have yet to work with any company that has delivered as well as Thrings. I can absolutely say they surpass all expectations and they do this each and every time.’ 

‘Engaging and authentic. They cut the jargon of the classical ‘law firm’ stereotypes.’

‘Robert James’s depth and breadth of knowledge combined with his commercial instinct makes him a standout. His ability to absorb complex information followed by rapid analysis and solutions puts him among the very best in country.’

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

  • Acted for clients in a proprietary estoppel claim appeal to the Supreme Court.
  • Represented defendants in a multi-million-pound proprietary estoppel claim concerning farmland and quarries in Lincolnshire.
  • Won appeal in a £10 million proprietary estoppel claim in the Court of Appeal.

Ashfords LLP

The agricultural experts at Ashfords LLP advise clients on property transactional work, secured lending, contentious trusts and probate and environmental compliance. Susie Murray and Tom Biddick lead the practice. Jonathan Hickman is noted for his advice to private clients regarding estate tax planning. Senior associate Frances Griffiths joined from Beviss & Beckingsale in early 2022.

Practice head(s):

Susie Murray; Tom Biddick

Other key lawyers:

Darren Blackburn; Jonathan Croley; Jonathan Hickman

Work highlights

  • Advised two SPVs on investments relating to a horticultural glasshouse in South England.
  • Advised owner of an on-farm anaerobic digestion facility on the refinancing of its AD facility.

Blanchards Bailey LLP

Blanchards Bailey LLP works with an impressive roster of longstanding clients including farming families, rural landowners and businesses. Paul Dunlop leads the team; he has over 16 year’s of agricultural experience and is a board member on the Country Land Business Association for Dorset and the Dorset Agricultural Society. Private client associate Kelly Miller joined from Humphries Kirk, while company commercial solicitor Mark Howell joined from Coles Miller Solicitors LLP.

Practice head(s):

Paul Dunlop

Other key lawyers:

Jerome Dodge; Sarah Dunlop

Testimonials

‘Blanchards Bailey have a very strong team in Agriculture and Estates dealing with any issues that can arise.’

‘The individuals make a balanced team dealing with all aspects required.’

‘I always find Blanchards Bailey very approachable with a good team who are proactive and quick to respond to enquiries.’

‘Paul Dunlop is a very approachable strong litigator and has been a stand out character in the firm in general property matters, particularly agriculture.’

‘Sarah Dunlop is the go-to lawyer for property transaction matters, particularly for rural and agricultural property where she has a wealth of knowledge and can be relied upon.’

‘Blanchards Bailey LLP are a ‘one stop shop’ with tremendous expertise in a wide range of disciplines providing both excellent advice and as well as the always necessary, reassurance and confidence in their ability.’

‘All Blanchards Bailey’s partners and staff have a very happy, relaxed and yet professional disposition.’

Work highlights

  • Advised client in respect of a multi-million pound farm sale, with associated smaller sales and grants of easements taking place simultaneously.

Clarke Willmott LLP

Clarke Willmott LLP acts for a wide range of both regional and national clients. The team is well equipped to represent clients before courts, including before the Supreme Court in the proprietary estoppel case of Guest v Guest. The team is led by Esther Woolford, an expert in property matters. Polly Ridgway is an experienced litigator.

Practice head(s):

Esther Woolford

Other key lawyers:

Rod Lloyd-Jones; Mark Buckerfield; David Maddock; Paul Hazeldine; Laura Mackain-Bremner

Testimonials

‘Clarke Willmott have a great agriculture and estates team. They have a wide range of lawyers who are extremely knowledgeable and easy to work with.’

‘As they are specialists they also understand the legal matters that farms and estates have. They have often seen the issues before and can recommend practical solutions.’

‘Esther Woolford is stand out exceptional.’

‘David Maddock’s understanding and knowledge of wills and tax is second to none.’

‘Mark Buckerfield – if you are buying, selling or gifting farmland there is no better lawyer to deal with. Great attention to detail, combined with practicality and unsurpassed knowledge of property makes him the ideal property lawyer.

‘Esther Woolford is a star individual. Dedicated and hard working, responsive and goes all out for her clients.’

‘Particular expertise in this team is agricultural partnership disputes and succession disputes.’

‘Esther Woolford is superb. She has excellent sector knowledge, very sound judgment and excellent client care skills.’

Key clients

The National Farmers’ Union

The Countryside Alliance

Work highlights

  • Represented client in a significant proprietary estoppel claim, from pre-action stages up to the Supreme Court.
  • Acted for client in a dispute turned proprietary estoppel counterclaim; client won on all points in the preliminary issue, striking out counterclaim.

Foot Anstey

Foot Anstey‘s expertise encompass a vast range of matters, including the handling of agricultural property transactions, tenancy, contractual and partnership disputes as well as development and planning mandates. Edward Venmore leads the practice; he is an experienced litigator, dealing with a variety of contentious matters ranging from commercial litigation to professional negligence claims and property disputes. Danielle Spalding is noted for her expertise in proprietary estoppel claims and Agricultural Holdings Act.

Practice head(s):

Edward Venmore

Other key lawyers:

Jessica Pitt; Anna Parker; Christian Silk; Danielle Spalding; Debbie Asquith; Kate Lucas; Tim Williamson; Robert Marshall; Alexandra Rogers; Rachel Small; Rose Westwood; Arron Jolliffe

Testimonials

‘The team always give straight forward sensible advice to their clients.’

‘It is a pleasure to work with the individuals, they look after their clients’ best interests but are also very pragmatic.’

‘I would recommend them unreservedly on all agricultural litigation matters.’

‘Comprehensive knowledge and personable characters always make it a pleasure to work with this firm.’

‘Edward Venmore and his team stand head and shoulders above the competition and are always available to provide sound practical advice’

‘A highly effective and knowledgeable team, who provide a friendly and well-considered service.’

‘Edward Venmore and Danielle Spalding never cease to impress with their knowledge, and professional approach to their work and clients. I never hesitate to recommend them and their team.’

‘Edward Venmore is personable, persistent and effective.’

Key clients

St Aubyn Estates

National Farmers Union

The Eden Project

Bolitho Estate

Work highlights

  • Advised National Farmers Union Members on the Electronic Communications Code.
  • Acted for a range of Estate clients including St Aubyn Estate and the Bolitho Estate.
  • Advised National Farmers Union members on a range of matters such as partnership matters and Landlord and Tenant matters.

Trethowans LLP

Trethowans LLP  has a full service practice, overseeing transactional farming and estate work, secured lending on agricultural properties and partitions of farms and estates. The team is led by a collective of esteemed individuals; Marcus Thorpe , Mihiri Gajraj, Steve Cole, Kathryn Evans  and Kelvin Farmaner. Banking and finance head Cole and Caroline Lindon-Morris joined from Blake Morgan LLP in April 2021 and 2022 respectively, while Bournemouth private client head Adam Scott joined from Humphries Kirk in January 2021.

Practice head(s):

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

Other key lawyers:

Adam Scott; Emma Earp; Nick Gent; Amanda Inch; Lucy Gleisner; Grainne Alen-Buckley; Robert Bajaj; Caroline Lindon-Morris; Rebecca Gillard

Testimonials

‘They get things done and their communication is outstanding.’ 

‘Attention to detail and willingness to look outside the box!’

‘Personal service as well as their expertise on the wide range of subjects arising; there is a good culture as well as personal flair.’

‘Trethowans punch well above their weight and I always tell my clients that they have the firepower of a large London law firm but with a regional presence’

‘Well led, very pragmatic, find solutions to thorny problems.’

‘Marcus Thorpe – hugely knowledgeable and will find a way.’

Key clients

Agricultural Mortgage Corporation

Nattergal Limited

Work highlights

    Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

    Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP has particular expertise in the handling of easements, tenancies and sales and purchases. Its clients range from landowners and banks to public authorities. Both Robert Drewett  and Simon Kirkup lead the practice. Drewett is a specialist in the management and maximisation of rural land assets. Kirkup advises charitable bodies, landowning families and private investors.

    Practice head(s):

    Robert Drewett; Simon Kirkup

    Other key lawyers:

    Laura Brodie; Janice Cowley

    Testimonials

    ‘Highly qualified staff who give a knowledgeable and personal service.’

    ‘Always happy to help and go the extra mile. Timely responses to requests.’

    Key clients

    National Trust

    Grainger PLC

    Church Commissioners

    English Heritage

    The Society of Merchant Venturers

    National Farmers Union

    Agricultural Mortgage Corporation

    RwE

    Work highlights

    • Advised client on the sale of a parcel of land belonging to two adjoining landowners.
    • Advised client on the sale of a parcel of land belonging to multiple adjoining landowners.

    Coodes Solicitors

    Coodes Solicitors has a range of expertise; the team regularly advises clients on the sale and purchase of farm estates, partnership agreements, matrimonial issues and matters pertaining to wills, trusts and tax planning. The practice is led by Pam Johns. She is a specialist in the handling of rural properties.

    Practice head(s):

    Pam Johns

    Other key lawyers:

    Kevin George; Lisa Robinson; Kirsty Davey; Abi Lutey

    Testimonials

    ‘The team at Coodes are very focused on you as a client, supportive in your ventures, and interested in what you are wanting to achieve.’

    ‘Pam Johns is very approachable, no question is silly, or too basic. Pam is very good at listening to your thoughts and ideas, she provides outstanding service and ensures the project keeps moving forward even in challenging times.’

    ‘The Coodes team are exceptional. Expertly qualified in agricultural and estate matters, supported by teams covering other disciplines.’

    ‘Pam Johns is exceptional. Her knowledge of the agriculture sector is outstanding which enables Pam to competently deal with any matters with almost immediate action.’

    ‘Experts in the agricultural field.’

    ‘Pam Johns – expertise in agricultural matters is second to none in the area.’

    ‘Lisa Robinson – good case management, transparent, openness, and understandable.’

    ‘The Agricultural Team have a huge depth of experience and are very in touch with the local area and the particular aspects of the Agricultural industry that they advise on.’

    Key clients

    Mr and Mrs R W Harding

    Miles Pengelly

    Work highlights

    • Acted for the seller of an agricultural haulage business.
    • Acted for a farmer, defending possession order proceedings against him.
    • Acted for Mr and Mrs R W Harding in the sale of agricultural land, including drafting specific and bespoke covenants relating to shooting rights, erection of agricultural buildings and the impact of a neighbouring wind turbine.

    Mogers Drewett LLP

    Mogers Drewett LLP works with a vast range of clients, including both landowners and farmers. It has specialist expertise in matters relating to public rights of way; Jonathan Cheal is an expert in rights of way and access to land. Practice head Frank Collins is well versed in cross-border matters concerning family owned businesses and farmers.

    Practice head(s):

    Frank Collins

    Other key lawyers:

    Jonathan Cheal; Cara Burr

    Testimonials

    ‘Mogers Drewett are able to provide an all round service for agriculture.’

    ‘Jonathan Cheal is outstanding in his field of work and we sought him out specifically for his expertise on rights of way. He is very approachable and always listens to us.’

    ‘Jonathan Cheal is exceptionally knowledgeable and combines legal skill with great personal acumen – a really commercial adviser.’

    ‘A sufficiently large practice to cover all the areas we required on this occasion  while still remaining personal.’

    ‘The main strength for me is that you can always get hold of someone to help you and they are always very helpful.’

    ‘Jonathan Cheal is not only very knowledgeable about this area of work but is also a very polite, friendly, encouraging and supportive solicitor.’

    ‘They have responded promptly to our needs and questions and provided a balanced and informed view.’

    ‘There are not many practices that offer specialised Rights of Way advice. Jonathan Cheal’s knowledge on Rights of Way is second to none.’

    Work highlights

      Stephens Scown LLP

      The team at Stephens Scown LLP is well versed in advising farming businesses requiring commercial guidance across the board, such as its accountants, agents and banks. The practice is led by Philip Reed; his expertise lies within the handling of inheritance tax and APR claims as well as claims relating to AHA tenancies.

      Practice head(s):

      Philip Reed

      Other key lawyers:

      Kate Theophilus; Nigel Coveney; Ian Thomas; James Snell; Susan Reynolds

      Testimonials

      ‘Pragmatic, complete understanding of the client’s aspirations and also able to lead a multidisciplined team.’

      ‘Sound, competent and reliable practice offering thoughtful and commercial advice.’

      Work highlights

      • Advised client about various property-related issues that arise in relation to their land holding which includes freehold land and 2 Agricultural Holdings Act tenancies.

      Trowers & Hamlins LLP

      Trowers & Hamlins LLP has a multidisciplinary practice which handles environmental and renewable matters, oversees the sale and purchase of farmland and negotiates rights of way. Nicola Janus-Harris leads the team, which has recently been bolstered by the arrivals of disputes partner Charisse Crawford, who joined from Stephens Scown LLP in early 2022, as well as associate Donna Duncan from Ashfords LLP and equine disputes-focused solicitor Josh O’Neil from Tozers Solicitors LLP.

      Practice head(s):

      Nicola Janus-Harris

      Other key lawyers:

      Helen Honeyball; Charisse Crawford

      Work highlights

      • Client is pursuing a claim against the estate of her late partner under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. We anticipate that the estate value is £5m+ and the claim value is £1m+. The individuals had cohabited for just under two years on our client’s partner’s Farm, when he unexpectedly died having not updated his Will. During their cohabitation and following his passing, our client has essentially been running the Farm. The defendants to our client’s claim are the deceased’s children. Sadly, given our client had lived with the now deceased on a full-time basis for a little under two years, her claim is limited to a claim by a person who was maintained by the deceased immediately before their death, which in many ways is more complex and nuanced than a claim by a cohabitee.
      • Succession planning following death of husband involving discussion of whether to continue with the running of a Wood Products Company and general farming activities. Deal value approximately £2.5m. Consulting with accountant on the tax implications of winding up the business and farming activities. This shows our ability to work alongside rural businesses and their accountants to determine if the business is still viable after the death of the owner and main employee.

      Willans LLP

      Willans LLP has particular expertise in negotiating overage agreements and leaseback arrangements. Its specialties lie within non-contentious work primarily for landowners, farming families and investors. Practice head Adam Hale, who was promoted to lead the team in December 2021, has over 13 years’ of experience in agricultural and estates work.

      Practice head(s):

      Adam Hale

      Other key lawyers:

      Robin Beckley

      Testimonials

      ‘Adam Hale – His client care, knowledge, attention to detail and file management are all of the highest calibre.’

      ‘Adam Hale – I found him really helpful. He always found time to talk to me each time I had a problem. Always returned my phone calls when promised.’

      ‘Easy to be in contact with legal team. Down to earth management of transactions. Calls always returned no delay.’

      ‘Very satisfied with the work done by Adam Hale in a very reassuring way. Matters brought to a very good conclusion.’

      ‘Affable, knowledgeable, approachable and trustworthy.’

      ‘Unbelievably attentive and prompt.’

      ‘We have delighted with all the work that Willans have done for us.’

      ‘Robin Beckley has always had an excellent understanding of our business and family.’

      Work highlights