Agriculture and estates in West Midlands

FBC Manby Bowdler LLP

FBC Manby Bowdler LLP receives a steady flow of instructions on the transactional side, assisting on funding, acquisitions and the disposal of land and property. Other areas of expertise include advising on the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 as well as advising on various tenancies. The team regularly works on farm diversifications, telecommunications and alternative energy projects. The group also routinely advises on mineral and sporting rights in addition to the commercial development of land and tourism opportunities. The practice has expertise in equestrian law with considerable strength in succession and estate planning. It has substantial expertise on the contentious side too. Sarah Baugh leads the team that also includes consultant Steven Corfield as well as Tom Devey.

Practice head(s):

Sarah Baugh

Other key lawyers:

Steven Corfield; Tom Devey

Testimonials

Thorough knowledge with practical application and an approachable attitude. Tom Devey and Sarah Bough are the “go-to” landed estate lawyers in the region‘.

The team has a great work ethic and a good understanding of what’s required to get the job done’.

Lanyon Bowdler

Lanyon Bowdler acts for numerous large agricultural and horticultural clients, landed estates and large country landowners. It is a NFU panel firm for Shropshire, Herefordshire and Staffordshire and covers a broad geographical spread through its seven offices across Shropshire, Herefordshire and North Wales. Brian Evans leads an experienced team that advises on all aspects of agricultural property and the group is skilled at assisting on wills, trusts and estate administration for its rural clients. The department has strength too on the contentious side and frequently advises on an array of issues from Single Payment Scheme appeals to disputes about renewable energy projects. Other areas of expertise include advising on professional negligence/product liability cases where the farmer is the claimant.

Practice head(s):

Brian Evans

Testimonials

Andrew Evans is excellent, very experienced and is a very safe pair of hands. He is solutions orientated and dependable – he adopts a collaborative approach to solving issues and is very practical‘.

It is an excellent team – Edward Nutting really understands the industry‘.

‘I found the firm to be very efficient in the handling of my affairs. Edward Rees was very good at explaining the detail of a complicated estate planning situation. He also listened and understood my needs‘.

Key clients

The Wynne-Finch Estate Trust

Wynne-Finch Farms Ltd

Gareth Turner

Andrew Higgins

Work highlights

  • Advised Wynne-Finch Farms Ltd in connection with a complex series of agreements and documentation in relation to a multimillion-pound investment to create a new dairy processing unit on Anglesey.
  • Advised Andrew Higgins on a deed of variation, will and inter-vivos trust to provide for his children and to safeguard the capital within his farming business.
  • Advised Gareth Turner on the settlement of a complex claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 in a mediation.

Lodders Solicitors LLP

Lodders Solicitors LLP is known for its focus on the agricultural and rural sector and for the breadth of its expertise in transactional and tenancy matters. Other key areas include advice on planning and on strategic land developments in addition to tax succession advice. The practice is vastly experienced too at advising on all aspects of the availability of agricultural and business property reliefs. Its clients include landowners, equestrian businesses, landed estates, breed societies as well as agricultural charities. Through its offices in Stratford-upon-Avon it advises clients throughout Warwickshire, the Cotswolds, the South West as well as  the Midlands with an increasing penetration into Worcestershire and Herefordshire. James Spreckley heads the large team that was pleased to add John Fisher as a new partner to its ranks in September 2019 from Davies and Partners.

Practice head(s):

James Spreckley

Other key lawyers:

Caroline Nemecek; John Fisher

Testimonials

Excellent knowledge over the whole property spectrum – James Spreckley‘.

‘Lodders has always been extremely efficient. Caroline Nemecek is an exceptional property professional. She has a clear and incisive mind and is a problem solver. Everything is dealt with promptly and in an efficient and considered manner‘.

Key clients

Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers

The Roger and Douglas Turner Charitable Trust (Arley Estate)

Top Spec Feeds

Addington Fund

Garden Organics (National Seed Bank)

Work highlights

  • Acted for a family trust in selling a farm to a charitable purchaser.
  • Acted for the executors of a deceased farmer in connection with the sale of a farm.
  • Acted for the executors of a deceased landowner where the farm in question was let under an Agricultural Holdings Act Tenancy – the team put in place an agreement to surrender with the tenant which enabled the property to be sold.
  • Acting for a landowner who owns a 3,500  acre estate in Oxfordshire.  
  • Acted for two family trusts with adjoining land holdings who sold their respective land holdings to a common purchaser.

MFG Solicitors LLP

At the heart of the department at MFG Solicitors LLP is a focus on succession planning and on ensuring that estate owners and farmers are best placed to pass the farm down to future generations. The stable team has particular skill in advising on agricultural property relief with its tax team and is also adept at advising on all aspects of the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986. It also has a strong reputation for its handling of high-value and complex farming estate sales and purchases. Iain Morrison acts for farmers, landowners, banks, local authorities and parish councils on a wide range of matters that affect the sector. Susan Morrissy is a known name for her work on a broad spread of rural matters, with a particular emphasis on farm sales and purchases as well as advising on barn conversions and land and tenant matters. Nick Playford specialises in property transactions, advising on legal charges, boundary issues and sports and recreation agreements.

Practice head(s):

Iain Morrison; Susan Morrissy

Other key lawyers:

Nick Playford; Helen Gough; Tom Bell

Testimonials

It is a highly motivated multi-disciplinary practice. The team can grasp a complex situation and get to the key legal issues. It is usually able to offer a solution that is compatible with the rest of the complex business‘.

A diverse team that offers a wide range of legal services and in-depth advice to clients on all manner of professional queries. A very approachable and professional team of solicitors. I have found Nick Playford’s knowledge and understanding of the rural sector to be excellent‘.

A fantastic team that is extremely knowledgeable and always on hand to help with any queries, providing clients with excellent levels of service at all times. Iain Morrison and Tom Bell are highly knowledgeable and always happy to help‘.

‘Nick Playford was able to point out various matters that we had not considered during negotiations and all parties have been happy with the outcome‘.

Nick Playford has the ability to walk us calmly and deliberately through the various legal issues we have faced. He is extremely “user-friendly” and almost instinctively in tune with our family and business objectives. He has a talent for thoroughly exploring the potential solutions to any given problem and analysing them critically from our perspective. He is collaborative, efficient and very personable‘.

‘As a regional firm, MFG is fully able to hold its own against its larger competitors in terms of the size and complexity of cases and client service. Helen Gough immerses herself entirely in her cases and gives her all for her clients‘.

Work highlights

  • Advised on the sale of £40m plus woodland.
  • Acted on behalf of various members of a family in relation to the property aspects of the incorporation of the family farming partnership.
  • Advised on a nuisance and environmental pollution claim.
  • Advised on tribunal proceedings in relation to an Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 claim.
  • Advised on the dissolution of a partnership.

Wright Hassall LLP

Wright Hassall LLP has a first-rate team that advises on the full array of agricultural matters. The practice has considerable niche expertise in advising clients on the basic payment scheme. It also continues to be busy in successfully mounting challenges to numerous notices to quit and in advising on various remedies under the Agricultural Holdings Act. Other strengths lie in all aspects of agricultural disputes as well as providing estate and tax planning advice to farmers and rural land owners. Practice head Alexandra Robinson is a Fellow of the Agricultural Law Association and is well-known for her work in high-value land transactions. Jennie Wheildon is recommended in this field too and since January 2020 is also a Fellow of the Agricultural Law Association. Associate Sarah Beer has developed substantial expertise in advising clients who are impacted by HS2. Paul Rice has retired.

Practice head(s):

Alexandra Robinson

Other key lawyers:

Jennie Wheildon; Sarah Beer

Testimonials

Having a large diverse team enables specialists to handle particular items to ensure you get the correct advice first time round‘.

Alex Robinson – her upbeat tone, willingness to discuss matters openly and help seek solutions is refreshing. I enjoy working with her colleagues too. Alex is smart, trustworthy and diligent, exactly what you require. She carries her duties out with a smile, which is hugely important‘.

Key clients

Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE)

Cotswold Farm Park

British Simmental Society

Berkswell Cheese

Warwickshire Young Farmers’ Federation

National Young Farmers’ Federation

Napton Water Buffalo

Arthur Rank Centre

Meadow Quality

British Showjumping

Work highlights

  • Advising some private individuals in the purchase of a rural property in Herefordshire which comprised the principal house, cottage, barns and four blocks of grazing land with exchange of contracts required in 20 working days but with completion deferred to the Spring  of 2020.
  • Acting for a client who had agreed to purchase  a parcel of land with riverside views with the benefit of planning permission for the construction of a residential property.

Hatchers Solicitors LLP

Hatchers Solicitors LLP has a dedicated team of agricultural law specialists that advises numerous landed estates. Head of team Valerie Edwards regularly advises on farm sales and purchases, single farm payments and a wide array of other matters such as grazing licenses, secured lending and first registrations of unregistered land. Edwards’ clients range from private individuals through to trustees and farming companies. Ann Fisher  heads the business team and works closely with the agricultural team on issues such as succession planning, retirement and the admission of new partners to farming partnerships.

Practice head(s):

Valerie Edwards

Other key lawyers:

Ann Fisher

Work highlights

  • Advised its client on the surrender of an Agricultural Holdings Act tenancy.
  • Advising its client on the ownership of farmland and the occupation rights of a farmhouse.
  • Advised a family on the preparation of a new partnership deed to reflect the admission of a new partner.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP

The team at Shakespeare Martineau LLP is known for its breadth of expertise. The nimble team acts on the full range of matters from planning and taxation advice to advising on renewable energy schemes and agricultural tenancies. Other strengths include advising on health and safety breaches on a farm that often involve serious injury or death. Increasingly the team has been advising on contested will cases regarding farms. It regularly acts on large-scale agricultural inheritance disputes and has particular expertise in proprietary estoppel claims. Head of team Peter Snodgrass is widely experienced and is well thought of for his expertise on agricultural tenancies and farm partnerships alongside his work on property transactions. Snodgrass frequently advises on matters as diverse as promotion agreements to farm purchases and HS2 claims.

Practice head(s):

Peter Snodgrass

Other key lawyers:

Nicky Beach

Testimonials

Peter Snodgrass and Nicky Beach are personable, efficient, quickly grasp the brief, give sound advice and keep to deadlines‘.

Peter Snodgrass – we were struck by his commitment and compassion and we definitely feel that he is the right professional person to be helping us through what is proving to be a very challenging time‘.

Peter Snodgrass has always acted with my best interests at heart, he does this whilst keeping his eye on the main objective, and does so in a calm and informed manner, but always imbues you with the feeling that he is acting as if it were his own transaction‘.

Key clients

National Farmers Union

National Grid

Work highlights

  • Advised on the drafting of a precedent farm business tenancy for use by National Grid on its many sites in England and Wales which are occupied by farm tenants.
  • Advising National Farmers Union on the drafting of various precedent documents for NFU’s members.