Focus on our agriculture team at Clarke Willmott
Our dedicated teams work hard to look after clients, whatever their legal needs. Our broad expertise across the firm means that anyone of our lawyers has access to a network of experts who can be recommended to ensure you are receiving the best holistic legal care at the right time.
In this series, we’re showcasing the individuals who make up our talented team. We’re speaking with our legal experts to learn more about their areas of expertise, what they enjoy most about their work, and how they work together to provide exceptional legal care to our clients.
Clarke Willmott’s specialist agricultural solicitors represent individual farmers, rural landowners, landed estates and agri-businesses of all sizes.
We spoke to Esther Woolford, Head of Agriculture to find out more about the team and the work they do to support clients.
Tell us a little about the agriculture team at Clarke Willmott
Agriculture at Clarke Willmott is one of our specialist areas and is also one of the firm’s founding sectors. The sector is made up of over 30 specialist lawyers across various teams and offices.
What is special about the Agri sector is its historic roots in the firm and the close collaboration between different teams which work together on a daily basis to provide the best support to clients
What type of clients do you look for and how do you work with them?
Our full-service and highly experienced team of solicitors can advise on a range of contentious and non-contentious aspects of agricultural law for both businesses and private clients. Some examples of the work we do for clients include agricultural and rural property, litigation and dispute resolution, corporate and commercial law, HR and employment, planning, environmental markets, telecoms, renewable energy and tax planning, Wills and probate.
We are passionate about the work that we do in the agricultural sector with many of our lawyers having rural and farming backgrounds and having a genuine interest in helping our clients to maximise their opportunities in the sector. We have a deep understanding of the challenges facing our clients
A recent high-profile case – Guest vs Guest
The agricultural team has been involved in much high-profile litigation, including the recent Supreme Court case of Guest vs Guest. In this case, Clarke Willmott successfully represented the Claimant Andrew Guest for over 8 years from the High Court trial to the Supreme Court appeal, which set a significant precedent for the farming industry in relation to the law of proprietary estoppel. Rising star Senior Associate Polly Ridgway was involved in the case from the outset.
What separates your team from the rest?
The breadth and strength of our team (with over 30 specialist agricultural lawyers), alongside the down to earth approach of our lawyers who strive to provide the best possible legal support to our clients and ensure that they have a pleasant and stress-free experience with us.
We are also very proud to be appointed by the National Farmers Union (NFU) as the dedicated NFU panel firm for Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire & Gloucestershire. Panel members are specifically selected by the NFU for their experience and expertise in agricultural and horticultural matters.
Working closely with the NFU gives us insight into the latest industry and policy changes and enables us to stay up to date with the challenges facing our clients.
Over the past few years, the team has received recognition for their expertise through multiple awards and strong directory rankings. In 2023, the NFU awarded the team the Tim Sell Legal Panel Excellence Award for their outstanding work supporting members in the South West. The team have also been shortlisted for a collaboration award at the 2023 British Legal Awards.
The team have been ranked Band 1 in the Chambers & Partners Agriculture and Rural Affairs category for past 2 years.
How has the team grown in the past year?
The team welcomed Partner Philip Whitcomb to the team, in July of this year. Philip joins the team with almost 30 years of legal experience and specialises in advising on succession planning and the structuring of farm businesses.
I am excited to join the private capital team at Clarke Willmott which has seen impressive growth and success in recent years. I am well placed to support the firm’s farming clientele and look forward to getting started
How does the team keep clients up to date with changes in regulations/law?
The team regularly attend industry events and agricultural country shows hosted by the NFU, the Oxford Farming Conference (OFC), Farming Community Network (FCN), Agricultural Law Association (ALA), CLA Rural Business Conference and many more. At some of these events, the team provide drop-in clinics for existing and prospective clients, aimed at providing details of the legal support they can offer, much like our free health check tool for agricultural businesses.
The tool is a free assessment designed to help business owners focus on the legal issues they should be on top of. Upon completing the assessment, clients receive a report that provides insights into the legal matters their business should address to ensure it is in the best legal condition.
Our team ensures that clients stay informed about changes through our Field Talk mailings, which are directly delivered to the inboxes of more than 1,000 clients. Recognising potential accessibility challenges for our rural clients, we further supplement these communications by sending over 600 hard copies in addition to the digital emails.
To sign up to our field talk mailing list, please click the button below.
How can agricultural clients get in touch with Clarke Willmott?
If you would like to find out more about how our expert agriculture team can support you as a provider, please contact one of our lawyers directly, call us on 0800 652 8205 or request a consultation.
Clarke Willmott has offices in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, London, Manchester, Southampton and Taunton.