Every family business is different, but many will face similar challenges.

While family businesses are likely to benefit from inherent advantages (for example loyalty, stability, tradition and long term vision) they also face unique challenges, balancing the needs and expectations of the family and the business.

Family members may have specific role or succession expectations, which need careful consideration alongside the commercial realities of running the business. The operation of the business itself will change and the structures needed to provide governance and common purpose will need to evolve.

Our experts advise on the family, ownership and commercial issues which affect family businesses of all sizes and across all sectors

Our work

We help with issues ranging from governance and succession planning to asset protection, business structuring, and commercial advice on all areas of the business, including finance, real estate, and commercial contracts.

We advise families on milestone life events, which can shape the long-term future of their business, and how to protect against the risk of divorce, or disputes between family members.

Where conflict arises, our Family Business Dispute Resolution team is experienced in resolving matters in a constructive way with a view to retaining family relationships and the commercial success of the business.

Areas of focus

  • Succession planning, through gifts, trusts, Wills and other structures
  • Inheritance Tax and other tax structuring
  • Family and Business governance
  • Shareholder and constitutional arrangements
  • Wealth preservation and asset protection including pre- and post-marriage (pre-marital and post-marital agreements)
  • Representation and advice on divorce and financial settlements on relationship breakdown, including advising on living together agreements and co-owned property
  • Incentive arrangements for non-family managers
  • Family business dispute resolution and risk mitigation
  • Administration of estates involving shares and business assets

Advising on the design of long-term structures to hold and protect family assets, including recently a £1 billion energy company, for them to be passed efficiently to the next generation.

Advising on pre-marital and post-marital agreements as a condition of a will upon death of a family business owner to protect assets bequeathed to three members of next generation.

Reviewing shareholders’ agreement and co-owned property documents for future proofing in a fourth generation family business as part of succession and asset protection planning.

Assisting a third generation family owned manufacturing business with succession planning, including revised arrangements for corporate governance, banking and group structure.

Working with family businesses of all sizes to create governance structures aimed at succession and wealth preservation.

Advising a sixth generation family business on an equity based incentive for non-family senior management.

Assisting with financial settlements on divorce involving complex assets including multi-generation businesses, landed estates, offshore assets and complex pensions.

Acting for siblings (partners and will trustees) in successfully negotiating arrangements for buyout of their shares of a family business and winding up of the original partnership.

Advising a second generation family business on group restructuring and banking arrangements following a period of family and business disruption.

Advising on the tax, property, banking, litigation and corporate issues of one of the UK’s largest farming family business restructures.

Establishing family investment companies for a range of clients and holding a variety of assets.

Helping various family business owners with tax planning (in particular in relation to inheritance tax) and associated corporate restructuring.

Advising trustees holding a significant family asset on their decision-making process to sell it, break the trust and distribute the proceeds to the beneficiaries, including obtaining court approval.

Assisting trustees on their duties in relation to their holding of a family business for 50+ beneficiaries with no direction from the deceased settlor as to who was to benefit.

Working with business owners in complicated group structures to review the availability of Business Relief and transfer shareholdings into trust, some time prior to sale.

Advising on the establishment of a £100 million charitable foundation, providing guidance on which vehicle to use and how to structure and time donations in the most tax efficient way.

Meet the team
Jim Aveline

Jim Aveline Partner

  • Private Client Services
  • Family Offices and Family Businesses
  • Food and Farming
Dominic Davis

Dominic Davis Partner

  • Corporate
  • Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Joint Ventures
Headshot John Barnett

John Barnett Partner

  • Head of Partnerships
  • Private Client Services
  • Tax

Catherine de Maid Partner

  • International tax and trusts
  • Head of Philanthropy
  • Succession Planning and Wills
Alison Hawes

Alison Hawes Consultant

  • Family Law and Divorce
  • Private Client Services 
  • Food and Farming 

Suzanne Padmore Partner

  • Pensions Disputes
  • Professional Negligence
  • Financial services Disputes and Enforcement 
Racheal Ruane

Rachael Ruane Partner

  • Corporate Banking
  • Real Estate Finance
  • Asset Finance and Asset Backed Lending

Hilary Barclay Partner

  • Tax
  • Mergers and Acquisitions Tax
  • Tax Advice for Companies and Shareholders 
Nigel Watson

Nigel Watson Partner

  • Share Plans and Incentives
  • Corporate
  • Employment Tax

What others say...

The level of technical competence of the team is outstanding. Coupled with its practical application makes it a formidable team. It is our “go to” firm of solicitors.

Legal 500 2022

Key contact

Jim Aveline

Jim Aveline Partner

  • Private Client Services
  • Family Offices and Family Businesses
  • Food and Farming

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