How to protect your business should something happen to you

Are you running a business as a company director or as a partner? Perhaps you are a sole trader. Maybe you are working successfully as a freelancer. It’s only natural to focus on the ‘here and now.’ But it's also important to think...

Agricultural Tie Breakers - advice for landowners

Historically, local authorities have been known to attach agricultural ties (also known as agricultural occupancy conditions) to countryside dwellings to prevent anyone, except those principally employed within the local agricultural sector, from lawfully...

Development land - terminating agricultural tenancies

Developers and promoters will want to ensure that vacant possession of a site can be obtained before incurring planning expenses.  Agricultural tenancies can be difficult to terminate depending on the type of tenancy in existence, the development...

The importance of agricultural wills

Succession and inheritance planning are the most important provisions any farming family can make when looking to the future and making arrangements for carrying on the farming business. A vital part of that planning is making a will. A will is essential...

Top 10 reasons to review your will

With spring around the corner, why not take the opportunity to do a spring clean and tidy away your copy of your will? Whilst you are there, it is a good idea to check through each clause in your will to see whether your personal circumstances have...

Agricultural Tie Breakers

Local authorities are known to attach agricultural ties to dwellings to restrict who is permitted to occupy dwellings within the countryside to people who are principally employed in the agricultural sector. What are the upsides? The use of occupancy...

What you need to know about Lasting Power of Attorneys

Lasting Power of Attorneys (LPAs) allow you to appoint people who you would wish to be able to deal with your affairs should you be unable, either due to physical restrictions or a lack of mental capacity. Attorneys cannot act until LPAs have been...

Succession and protecting the farm

It has been suggested that around 60% of farming families do not have written succession plans! Land values, Brexit and the post-covid world in which we now live, make succession planning more important now than ever. Historically, older generations...

The Agricultural Act 2020 - The End of the Basic Payment Scheme for Farmers

The need for replacement domestic legislation following Brexit provided an opportunity for transformation of domestic agricultural policy, and the Agricultural Act 2020 was born. Heralded by many as a move away from the bureaucratic EU legislation that has...

Private water supplies, good or bad?

Many would extol the virtues of a private water supply (PWS). Well think again.  There are many potential pitfalls which need to be addressed from the outset otherwise the sale/acquisition could become problematical. First, as PWS are not maintained in...

Succession: how to keep it in the family for generations

Over the last 200 years, agriculture in Britain has changed significantly. With the impending changes following Brexit, The Agriculture Act 2020, and no doubt many things we do not even know or have heard of as I write, it will undoubtedly change and need...

Farming a green and prosperous land.

Everyone, from school children to David Attenborough and Prince Charles, are urging us to combat climate change. How will this impact the rural community – and how will we respond? The Prince warns that the farming industry faces its ‘biggest...

The importance of Partnership Agreements when considering Succession

Succession and estate planning for farmers is complex, with many issues to consider including balancing the sustainability of the farm and protecting family members whom have worked on the farm all their life whilst ensuring that those that haven’t are...

Public Rights of Way - Landowners Stay Aware

Landowners have experienced an increase in the public encroaching onto their land. Covid-19 has placed restrictions on the public’s movements, which has resulted in people re-evaluating their lives and taking steps to enhance their health and wellbeing...

Why should every farmer have a lasting power of attorney?

There are two separate documents; one to deal with your property and financial affairs, and the other to deal with your health and welfare. Who should I have as an attorney? It can be a relative, a friend or a professional. They should be over the age of...

Concerns for business tenants during lockdown

Following the Prime Minister’s speech on 23 March 2020, only essential business and commercial premises will have remained open although, with restrictions beginning to ease, many businesses will be concerned for the future of their organisation...

Diversification to create additional revenue streams

In response to political and economic uncertainties, British landowners are seeking to diversify their estate to create additional revenue streams. There are many diversification options available to landowners, such as: Selling a proportion of the estate...

Completing and updating your company's Person with Significant Control Register

As of 26 July 2017, it has been a legal requirement that limited companies and limited liability partnerships maintain a Person with Significant Control Register ( PSC Register ) so why is it, after all this time, when I look up a company at Companies House...

Having a contract in writing: why you need one and why it's a good investment

Many business deals are concluded by “Gentleman’s Agreements”. These can work for people and businesses - until there is an issue or uncertainty. Unfortunately, deals and relationships in business can, and do, go wrong for many reasons....

Reforming Agricultural Tenancies

Onerous provisions imposed by the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 (“the 1986 Act”), primarily in relation to security of tenure and succession, resulted in tenants not being offered long term tenancies. Although the creation of Farming Business...

Making it easier to execute documents

Many readers will be surprised to learn that electronic signing of documents is something that is still being considered by government. It is possible that trust deeds and many other legal documents will move into the 21st century, as the Law Commission has...

When all is not what it seems

Who owns the farmland that the farm operates on? It’s a fairly straightforward question, but the answer is not always what it seems. Invariably, farmland is passed down through the generations, and agreements completed with a handshake. Titles,...

Occupiers' liability for visitors

If you occupy land, you should familiarise yourself with the duties you have for visitors, whether invited or unlawful.   Many people believe that occupiers’ liability means that an occupier is responsible if an invited visitor suffers an injury,...

Paying for care for you or your loved ones

Planning for and paying for care in later life is always a tricky subject and not one that we or our loved ones want to think about.  But, if we plan and know what to expect, this can help enormously in the future and make life easier for ourselves and...

Working farms - residential, non-residential or mixed use?

Following recent challenges made by HMRC, the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) term ‘mixed-use’ applying to property transactions has become less clear-cut than once thought and has highlighted the importance of seeking specialist advice. The issue...

Demystifying diversification!

Today, land owners consider various ways to produce income from their land, instead of relying solely on farming. You must ensure you are protected correctly if allowing others to occupy your land, for example, leisure pursuits, offices, tea room or petting...

Agricultural tenancy legislation - modernising and updating?

Presumably to give the farming community a well-deserved break from worrying about Brexit, DEFRA has opened a consultation to run from April to July with the aim of ‘modernising and updating agricultural tenancy legislation’. The consultation is...

Farm business structures: Tenancy Agreements

Farming families are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of reviewing their business structures, as well as their personal affairs. More and more are taking professional advice. Unfortunately, there are a number of circumstances where failure to...

Agricultural lasting powers of attorney

It is commonly reported that farming is one of the most dangerous professions. When running an agricultural business as a sole trader, partnership or limited company, planning can often be overlooked. However, every farmer should ensure that they have a...

Modernising and updating?

Presumably to give the farming community a break from Brexit, DEFRA has opened a consultation to run until July with the aim of ‘modernising and updating agricultural tenancy legislation’. The consultation is at an embryonic stage; however, we...

Diversification

Diversification of the Farm The Agriculture Bill, which is currently passing through government, will radically change the calculation and payment of farming subsidies after the UK leaves the EU. Payments favouring traditional farming are set aside and...

Agriculture Bill 2018

As we enter the last quarter of the year, the uncertainties and questions surrounding Brexit are looming. The farming communities were, at least, provided with some answers on 12 September when the government published the much awaited Agriculture Bill 2018....

Resolving disputes - the cost of litigation

Perdeep Grewal, a solicitor at Birkett Long, considers the cost of litigation and what some law firms are offering to help businesses enter into a dispute but stay cost-effective. If you have a business dispute worth between £10,000 and £25,000,...

High hopes for a fruitful season

2018 brings uncertainty for the agricultural industry. The Government’s Agricultural Bill is progressing laboriously through the legislative system, which will shape the agricultural industry for generations to come. The end result, and the impact of...

Grazing Licences: avoiding the tax pitfalls

Who occupies agricultural land and what activity is really carried out on the land are questions that every land owner should ask themselves to minimise the risk of facing an unnecessary tax liability.  For example, the tax consequences of arrangements...

Coastal Erosion

Since my article in the Agricultural Law Association Bulletin, most eyes have been on Brexit, however, the heavy rains of 2018 have delayed matters in the fields, with April seeing record rainfall levels.    But it is coastal erosion that has...

Proprietary estoppel - the expectation of inheritance

There are a variety of claims that can be made against a deceased’s estate, such as a challenge to the validity of their last will, or a claim for reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act...

A New National Planning Policy Framework

The prospect of obtaining planning permission for development has long been attractive to landowners, but as the government becomes ever more ambitious with its housing targets, more of our clients are seeking opportunities to promote their land for...

Interview with Fellow of the Agricultural Law Association

Interview with Emma Coke, as she achieves The Agricultural Law Association Fellowship Emma Coke is an Associate Solicitor in our Agriculture & Estates Team, who has recently become a Fellow of the Agricultural Law Association. What is the Agricultural...

Who owns what when a relationship fails

Who owns what is a tricky question when a relationship breaks down – even more so when assets include the family farm.   Farmers, in particular, look to protect assets so that they remain within the family and pass on to future...

Voluntary registration - there are benefits

Since 2002, it has been compulsory to register property and land at HM Land Registry upon certain triggering events e.g. transfer, mortgage etc.  So is there any benefit of going to the expense of registering your property voluntarily? HM Land...

A restrictive covenant or overage agreement might not always achieve what you think

It is now very common for landowners to sell their land subject to restrictive covenants or overage agreements – often both – with the aim of securing a share in the profits of any future development. But, increasing your profit is not...

protecting tax reliefs for your family

Farming is usually a family affair and, in many cases, parents want their farm to be kept in the family after their death.  Succession taxation relief is essential if that objective is to be realised, particularly in the face of high land values. ...

Relationships and the division of assets

Who owns what is a tricky question when a relationship breaks down and even more so when the assets include the family farm.  David Feakins examines the protection offered by cohabitation and prenuptial agreements.   Farmers, in particular,...

Don't get caught out by the unexpected

Farmers work tirelessly to run an efficient and profitable business and to provide an income for the family, but what happens if disaster strikes and you can no longer work.  Is there anything that can reduce the impact to that loss of income and halt...

Protecting your farm

In the same way that insurance guards against the unexpected, a lasting power of attorney can give reassurance that the farm will be in safe hands, regardless of a change of circumstances.   A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document...

Protecting the value in your business

Wealth in many families comes from family businesses.  Tracey Dickens, a specialist in ownership and exit arrangements of a business, outlines how Birkett Long can help family business owners to protect the wealth they have worked so hard for, and,...

New probate fees in 2017

In February 2017, the government announced plans to increase probate fees from £155 up to £20,000 in some cases. Caroline Dowding tells us how farming families can avoid such a hefty hike. The announcement comes despite an overwhelming majority...

Miles joins specialist agriculture team

First-class Oxford graduate Miles Coates has joined leading Essex law firm Birkett Long’s specialist team of agriculture and estates experts. Miles, who grew up near Woodbridge, Suffolk, and attended Orwell Park School, has joined the dedicated...

Land promotion...worth considering?

With the increased demand and need for new housing in England, farmers are frequently being approached by developers, property finders and land promoters to consider future strategic land development.  Daniel Sturman outlines what might be involved in...

The residence nil rate band and its impact on farmers

The Conservative Government’s 2010 manifesto said they would raise the inheritance tax threshold to £1m.  In 2015, a similar promise was made, with the words ‘effective inheritance tax threshold’.  But is this a...

Seasonal workers - we need you

What will the impact of leaving the European Union have for those businesses reliant on migrant workers from Europe?  Emma Coke looks at the issues surrounding what could be a scarcity of labour. The agricultural and horticultural industries are very...

Entrepreneurs' Relief on development land

Significant capital sums can be realised by the sale of land for redevelopment purposes.  A sale of land will inevitably give rise to a charge to Capital Gains Tax (CGT) but depending upon the structure of the sale the farmer may be able to benefit from...

Inheriting on a promise

“Without written evidence, you’re wasting your time.” So went the mantra of one of my wisest supervisors, but the legal landscape has changed dramatically since. The legal term ‘estoppel’ seeks to uphold fairness. It...

Tax relief on gains from land sales

Selling land for development can be an attractive proposition, but capital gains tax is less so!  Entrepreneur’s relief may be a way of minimising loss. When land is sold for redevelopment, there is an inevitable capital gains tax charge....

Your farmhouse and inheritance tax

In recent years, claims for Agricultural Property Relief (APR) on farmhouses have come under scrutiny by HMRC as house prices have risen, particularly in the South East, and country farmhouses have become more attractive for wealthy non-farmers and overseas...

Where are we now and what lies ahead?

What an interesting year it has been so far, especially with regard to the EU referendum and the subsequent vote to leave. So three months on, are things any clearer? In short, probably not, although one thing is certain; we have entered unchartered...

Flooding and Issues Affecting Occupiers

Water is one of the world’s most beguiling and mercurial forces of nature. In its most basic form it is the elixir of life, the shortage of which leads to drought and even death; but equally, in excess, capable of causing widespread devastation....

The farm... a family divide?

Farming is, overwhelming, a family business, a vocation and a way of life, more so than many other forms of employment or business structure. It is unsurprising, therefore, that farming families are strongly motivated to pass on the family farm to future...

The new right to rent legislation

The Home Office introduced a right to rent scheme which saw the property industry take direct responsibility for immigration checks for those seeking to rent private residential property. Many farmers have cottages let under residential tenancies or FBTs...

EU uncertainty

It’s been an interesting year with the EU referendum at the heart of any debate about the future of UK agriculture. As with other sectors, there are arguments for and against our continued membership of the European Union and lively but healthy debates...

A new path for ramblers?

Public rights of way and public access to the working rural landscape have long caused land owners and farmers concern. That concern has extended to the impact on the value and development of their property and to the risks that walkers, unfamiliar with...

Less inheritance tax due to new taxation rules

The Conservatives’ summer budget revealed details of proposed changes to the current Inheritance Tax (IHT) threshold.  But what are the changes, and what do they mean for you? Currently, each individual has an allowance of £325 ,000,...

The pesky small print

A recent landmark ruling in Arnold v Britton & Ors (2015) has confirmed the old cliché – always read the small print before you sign. This case confirmed that commercial contracts entered into freely between parties cannot be...

Looking back on 2015

Wybar’s Sidebar With harvest completed, it’s time to reflect on the year past.  We’ve all watched in despair as the RPA has struggled with the transition from SPS to BPS and we have to trust that the 2015 payments will be paid in...

Partnerships and stamp duty land tax

Transferring land from your partnership to individual partners might seem like a simple structural change with no real impact on the ownership of the land in question. It might also seem fair that this sort of transaction should not attract stamp duty land...

Looking to the future

The general election will have captured much of our attention of late and I suspect we are all breathing a sigh of relief at a majority of any kind.  However, a Conservative majority unfettered by the annihilation of the Liberal Democrats, offers hope...

Farming in a post EU UK - would the UK farming industry survive EU withdrawal?

Following May’s unexpected Conservative triumph and the EU referendum which will follow within two years, will the UK farming industry find itself facing yet another imposed crisis if the British public supports exit from the European Union? ...

Passing on the family farm - do rising values make it easier or more difficult?

Birkett Long has a long established agricultural practice looking after generations of farming families in Essex and Suffolk and the question of succession is something that crosses our desks on a regular basis. With reasonable arable land in Essex and...

New powers against fly-grazing

As recent reports in this very newspaper will testify, abandoned horses and fly-grazing have long been a scourge of the rural community in East Anglia.  Both farmers and residential property owners alike have suffered at the hands of unscrupulous horse...

Passing on the famaily farm - do rising values make this easier or more difficult?

Birkett Long has a long established agricultural practice looking after generations of farming families in Essex and Suffolk and the question of succession is something that crosses our desks on a regular basis With reasonable arable land in Essex &...

Landlords - beware of compensation claims

One little known element of the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995 is that tenants of Farm Business Tenancies are, in certain circumstances, entitled to claim compensation in respect of improvements they have made to the leased property. Perhaps even more...

Renewable energy - not just hot air

Like many farmers and landowners, many of you will be thinking about the possibility of diversifying into renewable energy.  There are benefits to be gained but there are also points to consider.  This article will concentrate on solar and wind...

A year of changing prices

Wybar’s sidebar It’s been an interesting year on the farm.  The comparative warmth of the Spring meant that, for the most part, harvest was early with many East Anglian arable farmers finished by the beginning of August. This in turn led...

Our commitment to agriculture

Our firm has acted for families over several generations, but we also welcome new clients looking for specialist advice.  The following gives a flavour of the legal advice our team provides on farming and landowning matters: The implications of the...