Hay bale and blue sky
Overview

The food and farming sector is vital to the nation’s economy. The shifting regulatory landscape and increased threats to food safety, integrity and security mean that our clients face increasingly complex challenges.

For over 60 years, our food and agricultural lawyers have provided leading sector insight and unrivaled expertise on all aspects of food and agricultural law; from health and safety, dispute resolution, environmental issues and planning to renewables, commercial contracts, food regulation, employment and wealth and tax planning.

Our food and agricultural lawyers understand the commercial drivers and challenges facing the industry. We work with our clients, which include farmers, national institutions and rural businesses, to help them achieve their business objectives, protect existing interests and maximise opportunities. 

As the food and farming sector evolves, our services continue to evolve with it, ensuring our clients can compete in the wider commercial world.

We have published The Pink Book 2, Burges Salmon’s legal 'bible' for landowners and farmers. The book covers topics as diverse as buying, selling and developing farmland, estate planning, trusts and partnerships, planning and employment law and is free to download.

Areas of Focus

Our agricultural law expertise includes the following:

  • Property – land sales, purchases and mortgages.
  • Food and drink regulation – food safety, food labelling, product recall and regulatory enforcement issues.
  • Dispute resolution – including contractual disputes, land occupation and ownership, partnership and trust disputes and product liability.
  • Corporate – governance, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, fundraising and private equity.
  • Environmental and regulatory – compliance issues, contaminated land and water.
  • Health and safety – civil, criminal, regulatory and insurance issues.
  • Planning and CPO – issues relating to properties for acquisition or development.
  • Tax, estates and wealth structuring – succession planning, transactional tax, land tax, wills, probate and matrimonial issues.
  • Commercial – advice across the full spectrum of the food chain; including contractual arrangements and protection of rights.
  • Renewable energy – investment development and financing, including wind, solar, biomass, biofuels, EfW and AD.
  • Finance, restructuring and insolvency – including taking and enforcement of security, drafting charges over assets and advice to distressed businesses.
  • Employment – including redundancies, restructuring, executive severance, disciplinary procedures, discrimination, tribunals and High Court litigation.
Experience

Acting for a tenant surrendering her protected agricultural tenancy in return for a new farm business tenancy which permitted the landlord to carry out gravel extraction works on successive parts.

Acting for the Co-operative Group on the sale of its farming operation known as Farmcare, together with over 17,000 acres of land in England and Scotland, for £247 million. The sale included several wind farms, imposed overage provisions on parts of the property, and involved the transfer of employment contacts and pension rights as well as contractual rights to farm a further 21,000 acres.

Acting for The Crown Estate in the sale of a 4,700 acre multi-let and largely agricultural estate.

Advising an institutional landowner on the recovery of one of its farms following significant breaches of covenant by its tenant.

Advising on a complex farming partnership and trust dispute for an arable farming client. The issues in dispute also encompassed secure agricultural tenancy issues, development opportunities and tax and succession planning issues.

Advising a farming landowner in South Wales on the proposed development of a windfarm and a solar park on its land. This has involved dealing with the interplay between the requirements of the two different technologies (by different developers) and using our market knowledge of the sector to make sure the landowner gets maximum benefit out of the projects.

Advising Rabobank and Lloyds Banking Group on £170 million financing of Noble Foods, the leading supplier of fresh eggs and luxury desserts to major retailers. Finance was provided by both banks by a combination of revolving credit facilities and an invoice discounting package.

Providing an employment law helpline service to Yeo Valley offering immediate guidance on day to day HR issues.

Advising on services agreements (including outsourcing); milk supply agreements; distribution, agency and licensing agreements; sale and purchase terms and conditions; joint ventures and cooperation agreements; and brand protection and exploitation. Recent work has included advising Fever Tree on distribution arrangements in the US and Netherlands.

Advising food manufacturer clients on food allergen and nutritional labelling matters and defending clients in food safety and food labelling enforcement proceedings.

Tax, partnership and succession advice on the partition of a large dairy business with assets in the UK and beyond.

Advising a group of farmers on a land pooling structure to maximise the development potential of their combined land whilst preserving their choices for claiming CGT rollover and entrepreneurs' relief.

Meet the team
Tom Hewitt

Tom Hewitt Partner

  • Private Wealth
  • Head of Estates and Land
  • Head of Food and Farming
Alastair Morrison

Alastair Morrison Partner

  • Real Estate
  • Food and Farming
  • Food and Farming Finance
Sian Edmunds

Sian Edmunds Partner

  • Food and Farming
  • Food and Drink
  • Estates and Land
Kevin Kennedy

Kevin Kennedy Partner

  • Agricultural Disputes
  • Trust and Probate Disputes
  • Estates and Land
Jim Aveline

Jim Aveline Partner

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

Emma Folkes Partner

  • Food and Farming
  • Real Estate
  • Private Client Services
Racheal Ruane

Rachael Ruane Partner

  • Corporate Banking
  • Real Estate Finance
  • Asset Finance and Asset Backed Lending
Helen Scott-Lawler

Helen Scott-Lawler Partner

  • Commercial
  • Intellectual Property and Media
  • Sport

What others say...

It is a really commercial team and a finely honed outfit...

Chambers UK 2016