Agriculture and estates in West Midlands

FBC Manby Bowdler LLP

Sarah Baugh leads the team at FBC Manby Bowdler LLP which continues to be busy advising on a vast array of acquisitions, disposals and funding for land and properties. In addition, the team is recommended for its advice on other matters such as the Agricultural Holding Act 1986 and a myriad of tenancy issues. The group regularly works on farm diversifications, telecommunications and alternative energy projects and is skilled at advising on mineral and sporting rights, as well as on commercial development and tourism. The practice also garners praise for its work on partnership issues and on succession and tax planning matters. Tom Devey  is skilled at handling all property and business related agricultural matters.

Practice head(s):

Sarah Baugh

Other key lawyers:

Tom Devey


‘The strongest regional team for agricultural law, combined with a strong litigation team. Transparent billing and time keeping system which enables billing to be monitored and costs to be managed more easily. With a collaborative approach and diverse set of skills, our business needs are more than well covered‘.

Tom Devey and Sarah Baugh stand out on the agricultural front. Their knowledge of the owners and occupiers of farms and estates across the region is exceptional. Their approach is pragmatic, but with bold advice, sagely cautioned against the risks and costs. They try to complete matters and make progress rather than to see matters drawn out and protracted – it might be said that this is an all too rare quality in the legal sector’.

The lawyers have great knowledge in agricultural and estates practice but this is also backed up by other areas of expertise within the firm which means that they can offer the full service!’.

‘Tom Devey is approachable, knowledgeable and simply gets on with the job in hand. He recognises our approach to risk and instead of trying to make us feel nervous about being tolerant of risk – he accepts our stance. Many other firms that I have worked with in the past are reluctant to accept such an approach!‘.

‘The team at FBC is extremely diverse, so you know that you are getting the best advice and service depending on the individual project you are working on at any one time’.

‘The majority of the work FBC does for my company is carried out by Sarah Baugh. Sarah has a vast wealth of knowledge of property and the agricultural sector. Sarah has a keen eye for detail and is always aware and considerate to the best outcome for the company’.

Work highlights

    Lanyon Bowdler

    Brian Evans  leads the department at Lanyon Bowdler which serves as a NFU panel firm for Shropshire, Herefordshire and Staffordshire and works closely with the NFU regionally. Edward Nutting  advises on a broad range of agricultural and commercial property matters and, likewise, Andrew Evans  covers a broad spread of non-contentious commercial and agricultural property transactions. Edward Rees  specialises in advising clients on trusts, high-net-worth estate administration and on other complex tax planning matters. The team also garners praise for its property litigation expertise frequently advising on matters such as disputes relating to renewable energy projects and professional negligence cases involving farmers as claimants. Steven Corfield is now a consultant.

    Practice head(s):

    Brian Evans


    ‘Up to date with technology, making contact swift and easy. Gives confidence to clients when it comes to ability to complete tasks. Keeping clients well informed and performing tasks quickly and competently‘.

    ‘Lanyon Bowdler LLP has an excellent team of solicitors who have a breadth of knowledge and length of experience to cater to their clients’ specific needs. They go above and beyond their quest for client satisfaction and happiness. I found communication with Lanyon Bowdler LLP Solicitors was clear , precise and on time. I would totally recommend Lanyon Bowdler LLP Solicitors to anyone seeking experts in any legal matters‘.

    ‘Nicholas Playford has demonstrated the breadth of his legal expertise and knowledge whilst dealing with my complex land purchase deal. I found Nick to be clear, precise, straight talking, very honest and very helpful whilst dealing with my case. I was impressed by his manner, immediate grasp of the facts and the superb advice and guidance I received throughout our land purchase deal‘.

    Key clients

    Meadow Farm Sheriffhales Ltd

    Angela Taylor and Patricia Pain

    Steven and Michelle Gladwyn

    Belton Farm Limited

    Work highlights

    • Acted for a farmer in relation to an option to purchase land required for visibility lines in a proposed development of other land owned by the farmer, unlocking multi-million pound development site. The option period is a long one with provision for the purchase price to be uplifted by index-linking.
    • Acted for a farmer in a time sensitive sale of development land, following previous abortive sales due to planning complications. The client had to agree to the development scheme with the developer, who initially produced a scheme which the client’s agent felt would not be acceptable or appropriate, so work was done on revising the scheme. Contracts were exchanged two weeks before the outline planning permission expired.
    • Acting for an executor of two related estates involving life interest trusts of a farm, in circumstances where the estate is split between various members of two step-families, where family relations are difficult and sensitive handling of the situation is required.

    Lodders Solicitors LLP

    The team at Lodders Solicitors LLP focuses on all aspects of the agricultural and rural sector, from providing transactional and tenancy advice, to advising on other matters such as agricultural and business property reliefs. Clients include farmers, both landowners and tenants, agri-businesses; equestrian businesses, landed estates, breed societies, agricultural charities and organisations. James Spreckley heads the practice which includes John Rouse, a lawyer with particular expertise in succession planning for businesses and farmers, as well as tax and estate planning advice. Caroline Nemecek is another leading member of the department which was recently bolstered by the arrival of Nicola Beach from Shakespeare Martineau LLP.

    Practice head(s):

    James Spreckley


    ‘As we were working to a very tight time scale, when we approached Lodders to act for us, the lawyers picked up the baton and were away so quickly. They anticipated what would be asked for by purchasers and started to put things in place immediately, so when the sales began they were completed most efficiently’.

    Mr James Spreckley took on our sale and we could not have had anyone better. From the start he was there whenever we encountered a problem. He advised, that as this was to be a very tight timescale, that certain things should be put in place from the start, things such as local government searches were done in advance, this helped to cut down time later on in the process. Mr Spreckley was such a help and had it not been for his forward planning the whole process would have taken far longer and may not have run so smoothly’

    ‘Expert knowledge and understanding of the rural sector and all of the complexities that may exist in preparing for and progressing the sale process. Sympathetic approach to property disposal in difficult circumstances (death and debt) and providing invaluable support throughout’.

    ‘James Spreckley – expert, considered, sensitive and client focused approach to property disposal in difficult circumstances. Proactive in preparation for sale and updates throughout. Nicola Beach – As above plus excellent availability ‘out of hours’ to help achieve the required outcome’.

    Key clients

    Tenant farmer client

    Estate owning client

    Multigenerational farming family

    Farming client

    Dairy farm Business

    Private estate clients

    Charitable trust / estate owner

    National vegetable grower

    Farming family

    Work highlights

    • Acted for a private family selling the historic family home and estate with various let properties and let farms. As the team had worked closely with the client to prepare a comprehensive data room of information, exchange of contracts was achieved within a very short period of time thereby securing the optimum offer for the property.
    • Acted for the second generation of a farming family operating its farming business by two brothers who were looking to separate and set up their own independent farming businesses. The team worked closely with the families and their respective advisers initially in the acquisition of a second farm and then to progress the partitioning of the farm assets to enable the families to move on as new businesses in the way which they wished.
    • Acts for the large private estate and provides a range of services to the clients, from agricultural property advice, to commercial lettings and personal tax planning advice.

    MFG Solicitors LLP

    MFG Solicitors LLP represents farmers and landowners in agriculture and property transactions, tenancy agreements and renewable projects. It has also been active in advising on landlord and tenant disputes and contentious farming family matters. Worcester-based Iain Morrison  and Ludlow-based Susan Morrissy co-head the department; the former has a strong reputation for his work with landowners and farmers and for his work with the tax team on various tax and succession planning matters while the latter possesses extensive experience in handling farm sales and purchases. Helen Gough is also recommended meanwhile Alexandra Phillips  has been promoted to the partnership.

    Practice head(s):

    Iain Morrison; Susan Morrissy


    ‘The ability to negotiate with particularly difficult rural agencies to achieve a satisfactory outcome with careful consideration of the client’s objectives. Hannah Taylor has proved to be especially adept at this‘.

    ‘I always feel I am in capable hands and the solicitors are always available to talk through any questions. Tom Bell has dealt with my legal requirements satisfactorily over the past two years. He inspired confidence and achieved results whilst taking into consideration my specific needs and wishes’.

    ‘The ability to stand back and assess the issues followed by a clear strategic approach. The lawyers care about their client’.

    ‘Helen Gough – very approachable and personable. Fully understands her brief and where additional skills and expertise are required to support a development. Extremely thorough and works in a collegiate way, getting the most from the team’.

    ‘Extremely approachable and efficient’.

    Work highlights

    • Acted on repeat instructions on a matter which involved the purchase of two lots of land (sold by formal tender) in Craswall, Herefordshire.
    • Advised a client’s farming partnership in relation to their purchase of 229 acres of agricultural property comprising registered and unregistered land for £1.85m.

    Shakespeare Martineau LLP

    Shakespeare Martineau LLP is best known for its work on natural capital projects. Under the direction of Peter Snodgrass , the team has been busy advising on various transactions relating to farms and rural land as well as renewable energy schemes, agricultural tenancies and providing succession planning and tax advice to its farming clients. Snodgrass is recognised for his work on agricultural tenancies and farm partnerships. Other core areas of focus for the practice are farm litigation and advising on farm partnership breakdowns. Jennie Wheildon  receives plaudits for her work on a variety of complex property matters while Iwan Williams joined the group from Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

    Practice head(s):

    Peter Snodgrass


    The firm took on our case which was an unusual tenancy surrender and regrant situation. Where detailed knowledge of the relevant act and thinking outside the box for situations were required the team worked together to ensure we had the best up to date information. To ensure continued work momentum, virtual meetings were held and tracked changes on documents were kept updated. Collaboration with our agent and accountant was prompt, resulting in a good working relationship all round’.

    ‘Peter Snodgrass and Kimberley Brookes were proactive throughout the case and used their agricultural tenancy specialist knowledge appropriately. I valued their initiative to research information for our unusual tenancy case. They were also great at communicating updates by written emails and virtual calls’.

    Generally, the individual lawyers I have worked with at SHMA have been knowledgeable, approachable and available. There have been some difficult and emotional cases in which they have helped me enormously in my business as a farmer/landowner/landlord/rural entrepreneur‘.

    ‘The team is very helpful and collaborative in dealing with quite complex farm sales matters. The lawyers have dealt with a number of sales in quite difficult circumstances throughout Covid. I have not had this level of feedback and communication previously from other solicitors‘.

    ‘We have been dealing predominantly with Kimberley Brookes. Peter Snodgrass has always been available to advise as needed and is extremely approachable’.

    The agriculture and estates team is a league above anyone else in the area. The team is streamlined, quick and efficient and very closely knit. Peter, Jenni Wheldon and Kimberley Brooks are very good professionally. A truly great and kind team. Their webinars in lockdown were excellent and varied too. Truly modern solicitors’

    ‘Peter Snodgrass is truly exceptional. He is super bright and has the ability to put into a few lines what it takes others hours to do. His clear concise mind makes him my number one port of call not only for instant advice but also recommendations particularly on succession where he excels‘.

    ‘The team is knowledgeable and works well together to offer a thorough and expert service to the client. Peter Snodgrass is an excellent combination of being an approachable expert. He clearly enjoys his subject and demonstrates an impressive breadth of knowledge. In addition he makes himself available and is quick and thorough with his advice’.

    Work highlights

      Wright Hassall LLP

      The ‘very professional’ Alex Robinson at Wright Hassall LLP oversees all farmland related transactions. Joel Woolf advises farms and estates on their business structures and on continuity planning. Ethan Desai, who joined the practice as a legal director from Furley Page Solicitors, has considerable experience in various land deals. Woolf and Desai also both advise landowners on the letting of land for renewable development projects such as wind, solar, AD and battery storage and hydrogen. At associate level Sarah Beer, continues to advise clients who have been impacted by HS2. The ‘always helpful and responsive‘ team also excels in other areas such as advising on agricultural disputes and on disputed wills.

      Practice head(s):

      Alex Robinson

      Other key lawyers:

      Ethan Desai; Sarah Beer; Joel Woolf


      We found Alex Robinson always went above and beyond to deliver an excellent service’.

      From my first of contact with this firm I felt as though I was in experienced hands. Despite Covid restrictions meetings went ahead online which didn’t detract from the advice I was given. From day one Joel Woolf was able to answer my concerns. In the difficult early days of my claim he was there on the end of the phone to allay the panic I was feeling on an almost daily basis. I wouldn’t hesitate to tell someone who was facing a difficult situation to give him a call’.

      ‘Straightforward, plain talking, quote you a price to what they think the service will cost. Easy to talk to without complex legal jargan‘.

      ‘We have had dealings with Joel Woolf and found his knowledge of his field excellent. I met him out in a field dealing with a problem a farmer was having with a neighbour. Will always reply to telephone, emails on the same day. Would and have recommended Joel to friends and colleagues’.

      ‘An ability to understand clients’ commercial interests and to explain the legal process to help clients achieve their ambitions‘.

      ‘Ethan Desai has an uncanny ability to explain the most complex matters to even those with little of no legal understanding’.

      What was important was prompt service and willingness of Alex Robinson to be available out of office hours. Alex appeared both competent and user friendly on a relatively complex sale involving splitting a property and issues with rights of way. She was pragmatic and responsive and appeared to have the right balance of co-operation but toughness when dealing with her counterpart‘.

      ‘I have found the agriculture and estates team to be practical and approachable offering sound advice with a commercial eye‘.

      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

      • Acted on behalf of the purchaser of a Leicestershire farm in four lots including farmhouse, cottage, derelict cottage, parlour and extensive range of farm buildings and approximately 332 acres of land and four fishing lakes.
      • Acted for the seller of approximately 115 acres of land with a listed farmhouse and a range of agricultural and equestrian buildings on the Warwickshire/Oxfordshire border. The property transaction included advising on the absence of formal easements for access and services across a registered village green.
      • Acted for the seller of an Oxfordshire farm including a listed farmhouse, range of farm buildings and approximately 40 acres of pasture and woodland. The transaction included providing extensive easement advice in relation to the retained land which included a newly converted barn.


      Headed by Simon James , the experienced team at Ansons attracts a steady flow of instructions from across the country. It frequently advises agricultural landowners on development work, as well as on all aspects of agricultural land acquisitions and disposals, rural subsidies and other matters including conservation projects, tenancies, business structures, tax planning and trusts. Neil Faunch also has a wealth of experience in all aspects of agricultural sales and purchases.

      Practice head(s):

      Simon James 

      Other key lawyers:

      Neil Faunch


      ‘The company has a good range of specialists but still maintains the approachability of a local firm. Clear, concise advice provided in terms that are easily understood and in a timely fashion’.

      ‘Simon James is an excellent solicitor in a field that inevitably throws up complex matters and his experience is invaluable‘.

      The agricultural team is part of a small mixed practice so clients can get advice on many areas of the law under one roof, co-ordinated by the lead partner. They provide value for money and no-nonsense advice‘.

      ‘Simon James has provided rounded and robust advice throughout the forty plus years that I have engaged with him. He continues to take a practical view to find solutions and brings a sense of humour to business, which has been essential over the past couple of years. Always quick out of the traps, his pace efficient and effective‘.

      ‘The team comprised experienced and long standing professionals acting in this rural area. The lawyers have a wealth of experience and local knowledge. They are local and ‘hands on’ firm. The members of the team we deal with are experienced and long standing professionals acting in this rural area‘.

      Key clients

      The National Forest Company

      Work highlights