Farms and estates

Whether you are a tenth-generation landowner or a buyer finally realizing your dream of owning a country home, your property will be unique and will have certain requirements depending on how you wish to use it.

We act for over 130 landed estates across England and Wales, and we understand what makes these properties special to you. Ranging from historic landowners to successful individuals from around the world, we understand the breadth and depth of admin that modern landed estates need.

Succession through the generations

The modern landed estate has a myriad of challenges when it comes to trusts and succession, where claims can sometimes have a devastating effect on the estate and family. No matter the size of the estate, the challenges presented are often the same. Our expertise lies in the ability to apply our experience and know how to manage diverse family situations, identifying issues at an early stage with the objective of creating outcomes that work for everyone.

A number of our clients are resident or domiciled abroad or have married spouses from overseas, and we are able to advise you on trusts and cross-border planning to ensure everything is in place for future generations.

All the advice you require

When undergoing a rural property transaction, the reassurance of being able to call on advisors with experience in all aspects of rural property transactions is vital for our clients, and imperative for a transaction to take place quickly.

Whether you require solutions on VAT, commercial operations, health and safety or stamp duty land tax, we have the expertise to meet all requirements of a landed estate in the 21st century.

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2020 Ranked in Chambers UK - Agricultural and Rural Affairs (Band 2)

Ranked Tier 1 for agriculture and estates


I have recently managed to sell my Yorkshire grouse moors and have been lucky to have had Withers helping me. The team fully understood all the specialist problems and presented the 6000 acre estate, which had plenty of 150 year old mapping problems, in a simple and attractive format which sold itself in a speedy and trouble-free manner. From our first meeting to the exchange and completion they were a pleasure to deal with.

Jeremy Archdale - Rural estate owner

By instructing Withers to represent me in a difficult dispute I knew I was working with a different caliber of law firm. They were a calming and reassuring team who helped me maintain my morale through difficult times.

George Ponsonby, Farmer

A very heavyweight performer giving fantastic levels of advice. Good strategic work by partners is followed up by first-rate associates.

Chambers UK 2017, London

Clients like to have one point of contact, and Withers being worldwide is very useful. They can act on a client’s behalf internationally.

Chambers UK 2017, London

Withers LLP has a ‘hugely competent team of rural property lawyers’. The firm acts mainly for landowning families and individuals, as opposed to institutional clients, with eight partners providing the full remit of legal services.

Legal 500 UK 2016

The team is co-led by Bertie Hoskyns-Abrahall (who is ‘fantastic with clients’) and the ‘brilliant and tireless’ Matthew Woods, and includes Christopher Groves who is noted for his ‘sensible, commercial approach and vision’, and Rebecca Spencer, who is ‘an outstanding associate’.

Legal 500 UK 2016

The team has a great understanding of all aspects of landed estates.

Legal 500 UK, 2020

Meet the team

Track record

British rural estate

Providing advice to the trustees and family members who own and run the estate on all tax and structuring matters, including succession planning. Recently, we advised on the structuring for the sale of land for development both from a tax and planning perspective. We also created a new LLP to own and run the estate, to help achieve the family's aims in involving family members in decision-making and succession planning.

Purchase of 760 acre estate

We acted on the purchase of a 760 acre estate, which consisted of a private water supply, offlying sporting rights, numerous cottages, overage provisions, the reservation and grant of covenants to the previous owner, rights of pre-emption, tenancies and employees. There was also the issue of the transfer and separation of agri-environment schemes and the basic payment scheme.

1,100 acre estate

Purchase of a significant Grade II listed Country House, land, stables, cottages and equestrian facilities. The property had a spring water business (including source) attached to it, and the purchase required the preparation of an asset purchase agreement running alongside the property contract to acquire the assets and intellectual property rights of the bottling plant and water brand.

Rare purchase of a grouse moor

We assisted our client in the rare purchase of a grouse moor with over 5,000 acres of freehold land and sporting rights, including moorland, tenanted land, cottages and common rights. We took our client through the complexities of owning a grouse moor and the practical management issues a new entrant to ownership faces, including the advice on graziers rights over the estate. 

Conservation easement

On behalf of farmer owners, negotiated a complex Conservation Easement preserving agricultural and tourist-serving uses while selling future development rights to a land trust.

Retail center / winery

Completed pre-development funding and entitlement of a “Wine Village” on one of California’s busiest traffic corridors. The Wine Village will lease to 17 wine shops and two restaurants. Combination of base rent and percentage rent from case sales will assure high long term profitability of this project.

OTF Aquarium Farm v Lian Shing Construction Co Pte Ltd (formerly Liberty Insurance Pte Ltd)

We appeared in the Court of Appeal in a matter involving losses arising out of the flow of water from the Appellant’s land to a neighbouring fish farm.

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