Agriculture and estates in West Midlands

FBC Manby Bowdler LLP

The team led by Sarah Baugh at FBC Manby Bowdler LLP enjoys a steady and varied workflow of transactional and funding work on land and property matters in addition to advising on the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 and other tenancy legislation. It is skilled at advising on diversification, telecommunications and alternative energy projects as well as mineral and sporting rights, commercial development and tourism. It has substantial expertise in advising on partnership issues and routinely assists on succession and tax planning matters. Tom Devey specialises in all property and business related agricultural matters.

Practice head(s):

Sarah Baugh

Other key lawyers:

Tom Devey

Testimonials

‘The beauty of working with FBC Manby Bowdler is that the team has a depth of knowledge and expertise and is able to deal with all matters relating to the Agriculture and Estates sector. The team is responsive and the individual solicitors freely advertise their direct dial numbers so that you can get straight through to them without having to speak to a secretary to explain your enquiry first. In the world we now work in I find this extremely helpful’.

‘I mainly work with Tom Devey and Sarah Baugh.  Both are highly responsive individuals and their knowledge of the sector is second to none. Although they utilise their junior solicitors and support staff to get work done, whenever you speak to them they are 100% up to speed on the situation and able to talk through the instructions without having to refer to notes etc which I find very useful’.

‘The company has a large, multi-faceted team so is well placed to deal with a wide range of legal matters to a very high standard. In my opinion the team has a good spread of individuals at different levels that mesh together well resulting in a team that is not too ‘top heavy’. The company has responded well to the restrictive working conditions of the pandemic and has still delivered on time and to a high standard’.

‘For me Sarah Baugh is a standout individual. Sarah has acted for my company for nearly ten years and in this time has been the lead solicitor in the largest deals of the company’s history. Sarah has a huge wealth of knowledge and you receive the benefit of it in a completely professional manner’.

‘A very professional firm that represents the region well. The best around for landed estate work unless you want to go to the London based lawyers’.

‘Tom Devey and Sarah Baugh are the two ‘go-to’ people for landed estate work in the region’.

‘Sarah Baugh has been helping us for a number of years and has a good understanding of the way we work across the family businesses’.

Lanyon Bowdler

Brian Evans leads the team at Lanyon Bowdler that acts for numerous large agricultural and horticultural clients and landed estates (including some of the largest and well-known estates in North Wales). In addition it is a NFU panel firm for Shropshire, Herefordshire and Staffordshire. Andrew Evans acts for a number of local developers as well as landowners in deals involving developers. Edward Nutting advises on a broad range of agricultural and commercial property matters and Edward Rees specialises in advising clients on trusts and high-net-worth estate administration. The group also garners praise for its contentious work. Nick Playford joined the team from MFG Solicitors LLP, while Steven Corfield joined as principal agricultural consultant from FBC Manby Bowdler LLP in early 2021.

Practice head(s):

Brian Evans

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Evans; Edward Nutting; Edward Rees; Nick Playford; Steven Corfield

Work highlights

  • Advised Baylis Farming Limited on a corporate restructure following the death of a shareholder, transfers of property and associated legal charge, all within a strict timescale.
  • Advised Mr Tecwyn Jones and Mrs Janice Jones on the sale of one of the most well-known farms in North Wales.
  • Will and estate planning for elderly farming client with interests in a farming company and partnership. All undertaken remotely, and completed within nine working days.

Lodders Solicitors LLP

Lodders Solicitors LLP has particular strength in the agricultural and rural sector. It advises on a wide range of transactional and tenancy matters as well as on planning and strategic land development. Clients include farmers (both landowners and tenants); agri-businesses; equestrian businesses; landed estates; breed societies; agricultural charities and organisations.  Head of department James Spreckley receives plaudits for his work with farming and landowning clients on property and partnership matters. John Rouse garners praise for his estate and tax planning advice. Caroline Nemecek regularly works with clients who have large country houses.

Practice head(s):

James Spreckley

Other key lawyers:

John Rouse; Caroline Nemecek

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 the executors of a deceased landowner. The farm in question was let under an Agricultural Holdings Act tenancy but the team put in place an agreement to surrender with the tenant for a surrender which enabled the property to be sold.
  • Acted for two family trusts with adjoining land holdings who sold their respective land holdings to a common purchaser. There were complexities around the trust terms and beneficiaries and the sale had to allow for separate commitments from each trust.
  • Acted for a farming client with two Agricultural Holdings Act tenancies and land subject to Evesham Custom. The matter arose from a notice served by their landlord seeking to take back one of the farmhouses which was disputed and the firm’s  property disputes resolution team provided advice.

MFG Solicitors LLP

MFG Solicitors LLP focuses on succession planning for estate owners and farmers. The versatile team has been involved in some of the leading cases involving agricultural property relief and receives plaudits for its work on all aspects of the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 as well as its skill at handling high-value and complex farming estate sales and purchases. Iain Morrison acts for numerous farmers, landowners, banks, local authorities and parish councils. Susan Morrissy primarily focuses on farm sales and purchases. Helen Gough deals with contentious agricultural and rural property issues as well as dealing with agricultural tenancy matters. Nick Playford is now at Lanyon Bowdler.

Practice head(s):

Iain Morrison; Susan Morrissy

Other key lawyers:

Helen Gough; Hannah Taylor

Testimonials

‘MFG Solicitors is first-class – I find it very professional and fair. Fees are clearly explained and the solicitors have excellent knowledge. I would 100 percent recommend the team’.

‘A sound regional practice with good expertise in this discipline‘.

‘For a regional practice, MFG has a strong expertise in agricultural matters. Helen Gough is clearly hardworking and immerses herself thoroughly in her client’s particular issues. As a result she appears to give 100% to the matter in hand which must be very reassuring for clients’.

‘Good approachable team always helpful. I have dealt mostly with Hannah Taylor, who is first-class’.

Wright Hassall LLP

Wright Hassall LLP fields an excellent team that advises on a broad spectrum of agricultural matters with Alexandra Robinson at the helm who is a Fellow of the Agricultural Law Association. Joel Woolf advises farms and estates on their business structures and continuity planning as well as advising on the letting of land for renewable development projects such as wind, solar, AD and battery storage. Associate Sarah Beer advises clients who are impacted by HS2. The team continues to represent tenant farmers in contested applications at the Agricultural Land Tribunal. Other areas of expertise include advising clients on the basic payment scheme. Former senior associate Jennie Wheildon joined Shakespeare Martineau LLP as a legal director in late 2020.

Practice head(s):

Alexandra Robinson

Other key lawyers:

Joel Woolf; Sarah Beer

Testimonials

‘ I was looking for a practice that is responsive, knowledgeable and courteous, with an eagerness to develop a strong client relationship. I have been fully satisfied in this regard. I worked with Alex Robinson, who provided outstanding service and was always available and fully informed of the situation’.

Very good communicators. I principally work with Alex Robinson who is a first class solicitor. She is superb with clients and always delivers a very high level of professional advice and service’.

‘Local knowledge and personal touch. Long established with excellent reputation. Ability to adapt to changing circumstances and meet personal needs of clients. Alex Robinson had a totally professional approach, understanding of business and family issues and willingness to engage fully to achieve completion to satisfaction of all parties involved’.

‘The lawyers were easy to deal with. Sarah Beer was highly efficient, personal and professional, maintaining a high level of communication at all times. We have no hesitation in dealing with them again in the future’.

‘We have worked closely with the Wright Hassall team on matters relating to HS2 where we represent clients affected by that scheme. Wright Hassall has  been helpful. Sarah Beer represents a number of our clients. She is knowledgeable but also sympathetic to clients’ needs where they are losing their property to compulsory purchase’.

‘I work mostly with Sarah Beer as we have several mutual clients affected by HS2. Sarah is capable, responsive and works very hard, and is also very nice!’.

Sarah Beer is always very quick to reply and she is proactive with my needs and requests. I know it is her job but I always feel a sense of caring and understanding from her whenever I ask for advice; I do not feel like just another client – Sarah really does care!’.

‘Individuals are expert in their field and have rapid response times to any queries. All of the individuals we have dealt with have been incredibly helpful and Alexandra Robinson has been outstanding’.

Key clients

Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE)

Cotswold Farm Park

Sir Thomas White’s Charity

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

  • Advised a  consortium of private landowners on the sale of land at Gaydon to two house builders for the development of a new village after having been originally instructed by the landowner clients in 2013 in relation to a Promotion Agreement and Land Pool Trust arrangement. The deal was worth £36m.
  • Acted for the sellers of a Northamptonshire farm which included a farmhouse, annexe, range of farm buildings and approximately 138 acres of pasture and woodland together with a newly converted barn. Value – £3.9m
  • Instructed in the £4.2m purchase of a  Leicestershire farm in four lots.

Ansons

The department at Ansons headed by Simon James attracts a steady flow of quality instructions on agricultural land acquisitions and disposals as well as other issues such as easements, drainage obligations, diversification, renewable energy and conservation projects. James, who is a member of the Agricultural Law Association, is also vastly experienced at advising on rural subsidies, business structures and other issues such as tax planning and trusts. Neil Faunch has a wide range of experience in agricultural sales and purchases.

Practice head(s):

Simon James

Other key lawyers:

Neil Faunch

Testimonials

‘I have worked closely with the team at Ansons for many years and the lawyers have consistently demonstrated their detailed knowledge of challenges unique to farming/land owning community ’.

‘It is a one-stop shop for the types of advice required by my clients. Simon James offers clear and no-nonsense views on a range of legal issues and, for that matter, life in general. Sound advice delivered with a good sense of humour’.

‘Extremely personable, quick to respond to enquiries, quick to provide quotes for my clients and generally very efficient in their services. Ultimately the lawyers have a unique understanding of compulsory purchase/HS2 matters’.

‘Neil Faunch is well versed in matters of HS2 and compulsory purchase/statutory blight and HS2 property schemes. He acts effectively and in a very timely manner’.

‘We have worked with Ansons on private client and agricultural work for 30 years. It is an experienced and well respected local team’.

‘Simon James is a very experienced and knowledgeable practitioner in the private client and agricultural work’.

Work highlights

  • Advised The National Forest Company on the acquisition of land.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP

Shakespeare Martineau LLP has a strong team that handles the full array of matters from advising on transactions involving farms and rural land to advising on renewable energy schemes, agricultural tenancies and contentious matters. The group also has considerable planning expertise as well as skill at handling contested wills regarding farms.  Head of team Peter Snodgrass is known for his expertise on agricultural tenancies and farm partnerships alongside his work on property transactions (including promotion agreements and HS2 claims). Legal director Jennie Wheildon joined the team from Wright Hassall LLP.

Practice head(s):

Peter Snodgrass

Other key lawyers:

Jennie Wheildon, Nicola Beach

Testimonials

‘ Peter Snodgrass was deeply understanding and dealt with every question arising with skill and sympathy. His correspondence was most professionally appropriate and effective, and we are pleased to rely on him to assist us as we go forward ’.

‘ Nothing is too much for the team A very professional, efficient, friendly and knowledgeable team, who is happy to explain any complicated matters’. 

‘Incredibly knowledgeable and astute team that takes a no-nonsense and efficient approach to country residential real estate transactions. Peter Snodgrass is our go-to solicitor for all matters relating to countryside residential real estate transactions’.

‘Easy to approach and generally a speedy reply. high quality of work. Good specialists who give valued advice’.

‘Both Peter Snodgrass’s technical knowledge and commerciality really assist with driving forward solutions. Hard work, experience and integrity’.

‘The team has depth and credibility with rounded, professional individuals and good knowledge of the sector and connections to other commercial property areas. Peter Snodgrass is a highly respected leader in agricultural and rural work with deep knowledge of his subject and the ability to advise pragmatically’.

Peter Snodgrass is very skilled technically and is very personable. Nicola Beach is straightforward with clients and the other side alike‘.

Work highlights

  • Represented Marcus Dill in the Supreme Court on appeal from the Court of Appeal in a landmark case concerning two important questions about the interpretation and application of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. The case concerned the correct treatment of a pair of listed early 18th century lead urns resting on limestone pedestals, and whether an enforcement appeal inspector should have considered their status as “buildings”.