There has never been a greater need than now for farmers and landowners to get the best specialist legal advice. The pace of change in the law is ever-increasing and the amount of new regulations is greater and more complex than ever.

The sizeable agriculture department at Thrings acts for an impressive range of clients, including traditional landed estates and agribusinesses. A market commentator states that the team is "clearly on top of client care and knows its subject." 

Chambers UK 2013

Thrings’ Agriculture team has provided specialist advice to those involved in farming and rural affairs for over a century. The team has a strong relationship with the NFU, being retained as its sole panel solicitors in seven counties in Southern England. It also has a long history of acting for landed estates, farms, growers, agri-businesses and other rural enterprises and enjoys close connections with the NFU, CLA, TFA and HTA.

The spectrum of the advice given ranges from sophisticated tax and succession planning and other heritage issues to rights of way legislation, buying and selling farms, coastal access, diversification, quotas and subsidies, environmental law, regulatory law, disputes and issues around food and farming businesses.

On all these issues, the team provides its clients with a wide range of knowledge and expertise.


  • Co-operative agreements
  • Commercial contracts
  • Farming companies and food industry
  • Intellectual property (including brands and trademarks)

Agricultural and rural property:

  • Agricultural holdings
  • Buying and selling farms, land and estates
  • Contract/share farming
  • Employment of farmworkers
  • Estate first registrations
  • Farm business tenancies
  • Farm partnerships and farm structures
  • Secured lending
  • Water supply

Estates Management:

  • Housing of farmworkers/ADHACs
  • Sporting rights
  • Telecommunication sites and wind farms

Public rights of way and village greens:

  • Access to land (including village greens and coastal access)
  • Public rights of way

Private rights of way

Planning and land development:

  • Planning appeals advocacy
  • Certificate of lawfulness applications (including removal of AOCs)
  • Section 106 and infrastructure agreements
  • Options, mines and minerals Agricultural subsidies:
  • SPS appeals
  • Claims against RPA/Defra


  • Equestrian property
  • Animals Act and liability issues

Film location agreements

Wills, trusts and tax:

  • Wills drafting, from straightforward to complex asset planning
  • Trusts
  • Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax planning
  • Inheritance advice
  • Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs)
  • Elder Law
  • Next generation

Disputes and prosecutions:

  • Farming property disputes
  • Nuisance: noise, smell, flooding
  • Pollution and environmental law
  • Contract/sale of goods/building disputes
  • Farm road traffic and transport cases
  • Public/regulatory law, animal welfare and trading standards

Some of our most recent cases have included:

The conclusion of our large-scale litigation on FMD. We have been acting for NFU members – farmers and farming businesses across the country – in relation to substantial claims arising out of the 2007 outbreak of the foot and mouth virus. This case has received national media attention. Acting for numerous Producer Organisations in relation to issues arising from the EU Fruit and Vegetable regime.

Acted for a group of dairy farmers in southern England against a large genetics company over the supply of defective bull semen.

In a landmark case for farmers, we successfully argued that Defra and a local authority had breached European Regulations in failing to provide farmers with the necessary infrastructure to allow them to comply with the law.

Sale of a substantial 2,000 acre prime sporting and agricultural estate in Hampshire marketed with a guide price of £23million The estate included a whole village and the sale was widely reported in national and international press.

Completion of Option Agreement for major wind farm of 19 turbines, including submitting application for Commons Exchange Scheme through the Welsh Assembly.

Obtained an absolute discharge for the owner of an 8000 acre estate in Kent, having entered a guilty plea for a strict liability offence of operating a regulated facility except in accordance with an Environmental Permit.

Successfully defended a farming company and its director in a prosecution brought by a local authority alleging the unlawful deposit of controlled waste (asbestos). Our clients were awarded costs.

Successfully acted for a group of farmers in Dorset in an appeal against two enforcement notices. They sought the cessation and removal of a mobile home used for residential purposes and the removal of shipping containers used for storage. This was a significant victory given that the appeal site was in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and close to a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Currently acting for a farming company in Buckinghamshire appealing an abatement notice alleging that odorous emissions from the spreading of agricultural waste are causing a statutory nuisance. This case will have wide implications for the farming community given that the farming company’s practise is in accordance with the Code of Good Agricultural Practice.

Advising numerous landowners on the management of public rights of way. Cases have included advising on the rights of occupiers to erect gates across public rights of ways and the powers of local authorities to authorise this; advising on whether public rights of way had been lost where a riverside path had been eroded or whether the rights moved alongside the river; and whether the public have a right to deviate from a public footpath where that path has either been eroded or blocked by a third party.

Acting on behalf of the Seaton Delaval Estate in Northumberland for the proposed transfer of the Seaton Delaval Hall to the National Trust. The Hall is a Grade 1 listed mansion designed by Sir John Vanbrugh - architect of Blenheim Palace - and is regarded as his masterpiece. The National Trust has made highly publicised national efforts to raise funds for its purchase.

Acted for a tenant opposing a Case B notice to quit on the basis of an ongoing agricultural use contained within a supplemental planning document, as well as issues surrounding the landlord’s settled intention to develop the land in question. This case could have a significant impact upon landlords wishing to regain land for a non-agricultural use based upon an outline planning permission.

Neil Barbour
01225 340070
07824 398827
Duncan Sigournay
01225 340064
07775 744952
Anita Symington
020 7766 5604
Derek Walsh
0118 963 7661
07766 525045

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