Rural, Farming, and Agricultural Law

Agriculture is facing its greatest challenge in a generation following our exit of the EU. The UK law which governs so much of our rural life is built upon the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), so we can expect seismic changes as we transition away from the CAP. It is in these periods of turbulence and uncertainty that the need for truly specialist legal advice arises. It has never been more important to have a firm grasp of rural and farming law, along with a clear vision of the future for the agricultural community.

How we can help?

Our specialist agricultural land farming aw team is based at our South Molton office. They deal with rural legal affairs on Exmoor and the wider farming community in North Devon and surrounding areas. The team is overseen by Brett Lawrence a Partner and specialist property lawyer, and includes Helen Hine, herself a farmer’s daughter. Agricultural law services are also provided from our main office in Barnstaple.

What makes us different?

In many legal firms, agricultural law falls between two stalls: the technical complexities of farmland will invariably be dealt with by the property team, while matters such as the creation of partnership agreements and other finance work are likely to be dealt with by the commercial team. Slee Blackwell Solicitors are different. Our Rural, Farming, and Agricultural team will take care of all your affairs. Matters will be dealt with by a dedicated lawyer throughout, so that continuity of service can be guaranteed.

By choosing Slee Blackwell Solicitors you are assured that your legal affairs will be managed by one specialist lawyer who will make it their job to understand your individual needs and establish a close working relationship with you.

Our experience

Being based in the heart of Devon, our South Molton office deals almost exclusively with agricultural, farming, and rural law. Agricultural matters are also dealt with in our Barnstaple office. We deal with a broad spectrum of work, including matters as diverse as hunting rights in the south west outside of the Duchy of Cornwall, the reservation of fishing rights and the transfer of working farms as a going concern.

We work closely with the agricultural teams at the major banks and financial institutions. We have also established close links with other farming and agricultural professionals, including accountants, land agents and farm business advisors. We know that our job fits into a bigger picture, with a requirement to work in tandem with others to give you the best commercial advantage possible.

Unique local knowledge

Our local knowledge, acquired over generations, and familiarity with local planning requirements gives us an edge in North Devon. This can be a huge benefit for clients seeking assistance with matters such as planning agreements under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act. We are also very familiar with the requirements of North Devon District Council, Torridge District Council and Exmoor National Park, amongst others.

Litigation support for agricultural and farming disputes

Our agricultural and farming team works alongside our litigation department.

We deal with farming partnership disputes, landlord and tenant issues involving agricultural property, and contract disputes. Partner, Hayley Bundey, specialises in family farming disputes, including claims for proprietary estoppel (breach of promise), TOLATA, beneficial interest claims, and farming inheritance disputes.

Areas of Specialism:

While we might not want to think about dying, we owe it to our loved ones to put our affairs in order by making a will and keeping it up to date. This allows us to make financial provision for the people and good causes we really care about. It can also safeguard vulnerable beneficiaries, preserve assets from being exhausted by Care Home fees and, above all, with careful planning it can reduce the impact of Inheritance Tax. It also allows you to protect your children’s inheritance from the consequences of re-marriage.
We provide a full range of estate administration services including: obtaining a Grant of Representation, dealing with the deceased’s tax affairs (Inheritance Tax, Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax) realising the assets, settling debts and distributing the estate. Where appropriate we can also help you make substantial tax savings, for example by varying the Will. If the estate includes a farm or business which needs to be sold or wound up we can work closely with our agricultural and commercial law teams to ensure that the transaction proceeds smoothly.
We can advise on the creation and registration of a Lasting Power of Attorney. An LPA is a legal document which effectively delegates the power to manage your financial affairs to an “attorney” should you lose capacity to manage your own affairs. Having an LPA not only makes financial sense, but offers invaluable peace of mind.
We are experienced in dealing with the Court of Protection; whether it is the registration of a Lasting Power of Attorney or making an application for Deputyship. The combination of our caring approach and specialist expertise in the provision of legal services for the elderly will give you peace of mind.
Inheritance disputes are becoming increasingly common. We can advise on the best steps to take to avoid a dispute arising. Our specialist contentious probate department can also deal with any claim under the Inheritance Act or a challenge to the validity of a will.

Work with our team:

Brett Lawrence
Brett manages the firm's South Molton office and specialises in transactions involving rural and agricultural property. He also sits on the Devon and Somerset Law Society education and training sub-committee.
Brett Lawrence
Brett manages the firm's South Molton office and specialises in transactions involving rural and agricultural property. He also sits on the Devon and Somerset Law Society education and training sub-committee.