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Land and Estate Management

Estates can be an engine room for the local community, both in the countryside and urban areas.

Whether you have casual farm labouring, full time staffing requirements, or management responsibilities, it will require a degree of discipline and organisation.

For larger estates, it can be beneficial to adopt a corporate structure and appoint senior executives who understand growth strategies. Even if staffing on the estate is kept to a minimum, most estates require frequent advise from a property agent and usually an accountant.

We are used to working together with all those involved in managing estates, including acting directly for property agents and trustees.

Below are some of your options:

Employees and HR support

Landed estates and heritage properties often employ a large number of staff to help run and maintain their facilities. Employee roles and responsibilities will vary widely and some staff may be employed full-time whilst others provide support at busier times of the year for public visits and events. Some employment contracts for groundskeepers, staff etc may also come with accommodation on the estate which will need to be referenced in employment contracts. Estates may also find that some employees are also ‘sitting tenants’ and more difficult to remove from estate accommodation depending on how long they have been employed or the original contract they signed.

Having a good understanding of your responsibilities to your employees is vital to aid the smooth running of the estate and its activities. Our specialist employment and landed estates teams can help you navigate these issues.

  • Right to work – dealing with urgent people queries relating to right to work documents, current visa and Home Office requirements and business risk factors
  • Immigration – Brexit update and visas for employees (Tier 2 sponsor licence compliance and bringing in skilled workers)
  • Equal Pay and National Minimum Wage – lawyers and team of HR Consultants can advise on this
  • Employment documentation – including the review of, and any writing of, legal documentation, including ongoing annual contract/policy reviews
  • Employment disputes – dealing with disciplinary and grievance issues up to and including advising on and supporting employers through employment tribunal claims and/or settlement discussions

Agricultural Tenancies

Agricultural tenancies can present exciting opportunities for new entrants to the market as well as a safe structure for those owning the land.

However, they do require specialist knowledge, such as understanding the existing agricultural tenancies (both the Agricultural Holdings Act and Farm Business Tenancies) and advice on how to integrate new farms into the existing estate structure and farming operations. You also have specialist VAT arrangements to consider and the "transfer as a going concern" relief.

We can help with all aspects of agricultural tenancies through our specialist team.

Property Disputes

The ownership and management of property is not always straightforward and landowners and managers of estates will be all too familiar with some of the issues that can arise.

These issues range from managing and terminating agricultural tenancies, to dealing with disputes relating to sporting rights, boundaries, or third party rights over land such as easements, restrictive covenants and adverse possession.

The legal landscape surrounding these potential areas for dispute is both extensive and evolving. We deliver clear and practical advice around these complexities, always keeping in mind the long-term objectives for the particular estate.

When disputes arise, landowners will usually want them to be resolved swiftly, with minimal disruption and we are well-placed to assist with this. But we are mindful that there is no “one size fits all” approach to such cases, and will adapt our strategy accordingly - whether it is at the advisory, negotiation, or court proceedings stage. Whilst we aim to try to avoid or resolve issues before they develop into formal action, this is not always possible and we have a hard fought reputation for being excellent litigators. 

Corporate Governance

Estates can be governed through many different structures, including trustees, charities or standard corporate structures.

We work alongside both the families and the trustees or charities that govern these, so we understand the obligations and responsibilities of all parties, and how these can function together.

For those estates wishing to enter into a corporate structure, which can assist with investment and general management, you will need to follow the usual best practice and mandatory guidance under the Companies Act 2006. We can support you with all requirements, including directors’ duties, rights of membership and shareholder meetings. This includes shareholder disputes and shareholder activism, as well as advice in connection with the constitutional documents of the companies and any shareholder agreements

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