A guide to agricultural law
May 2024
Agriculture & Rural

A guide to agricultural law

Agricultural law covers legal practices to support the agricultural industry and rural communities — from arable, dairy, and livestock farms to areas of horticulture. Whether you're in charge of managing a large farm or you’re involved in a small-scale rural business, understanding the ins and outs of agricultural law is essential for modern-day farming success.

This knowledge means you can navigate the complexities of land use, understand environmental concerns, and — most importantly — ensure that your business operations in rural areas stay legal.

Based in the North East, we at Hay & Kilner are proud to offer our agricultural legal services tailored to the bespoke needs of our clients. Ready to find out everything you need to know about agricultural law? Let’s lay out the basics.

A basic overview of agricultural law

Agricultural law can include aspects such as land ownership, farming rights, environmental regulations, and rural business operations. Its purpose is to ensure that agricultural practices across the UK comply with national policies on food safety, land use, and sustainability — all of which support the backbone of the UK's food production and rural economy.

The difference between rural law and agricultural law

Rural law is a specialised area within the broader field of agricultural law — but they’re quite easy to get mixed up. To put it simply, agricultural law covers all legal matters related to farming and agriculture. This includes issues like land use, pesticide use, seed patents, and environmental regulations that can affect farming practices.

Rural law, on the other hand, extends beyond just agriculture to include various other legal issues that can impact rural communities. A rural solicitor can deal with topics like property rights, rural development, and access to services, all of which are vital for the lifestyle and economy of people living in countryside areas.

While agricultural law is concerned with the specifics of agricultural production, rural law deals with the broader legal framework that supports rural life, maintaining a sustainable infrastructure for the future.

What is the role of an agricultural law specialist?

Agricultural law specialists are equipped with the knowledge to handle the niche legal issues that arise in rural settings — anything from farm property sales and agricultural leases to regulatory compliance and dispute resolution.

What does an agriculture law specialist at Hay & Kilner do?

At Hay & Kilner, our agricultural law specialists work closely with clients to provide bespoke legal solutions. We’ll deliver a quality assured service, ensuring you secure the best result.

Our connections help us do this efficiently — we’re lucky to work closely with many national and regional organisations. By working with professional advisors, bankers, accountants, and land agents, we can achieve your goals in the most tax-efficient way.

We are members of the Country Land & Business Association (CLA), the Agricultural Law Association (ALA) and the National Farmers Union (NFU), meaning we can tackle the following queries with ease:

  • Agricultural property and tenancy issues
  • Succession and inheritance tax
  • Renewable energy
  • Agricultural disputes
  • Family law
  • Regulatory and compliance concerns
  • Rural leisure pursuits

For more specific information regarding these areas of agricultural law, take a look at our agriculture and rural legal services.

5 important questions to ask your agriculture law solicitors

Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been in farming for decades, agricultural law is complex. With this in mind, it’s essential to research agricultural law solicitors in your area to ensure their experience and values align with your own.

1. What experience do you have with rural property and agricultural businesses like mine?

Experience in your specific sector means the firm is likely better equipped to predict and identify potential legal issues and offer tailored solutions.

For example, at Hay & Kilner, have a well-rounded team with expertise in agricultural and rural property matters. Our goal is to provide tailored advice for clients involved in the sale and purchase of farms and rural estates, agricultural tenancies, and complex property registrations. We also maintain authentic engagement with rural communities and agricultural businesses to inform and support your specific needs.

2. How can you assist in resolving disputes that may arise from agricultural operations?

Disputes can be costly and disruptive. Knowing how a law firm handles conflicts — including its capability to manage disputes through negotiation or mediation — can help protect your relationships within a rural community.

Our team is adept at handling various agricultural disputes, including those related to property, planning, employment, and contractual disagreements. We always aim to resolve matters efficiently, often through mediation to avoid court proceedings.

3. Can you guide me through the process of agricultural planning applications?

The legal intricacies of planning and land use can significantly impact your ability to develop and use your property how you wish. Expert legal guidance in navigating planning applications can ensure compliance with regulations, resulting in a successful outcome.

We support clients in navigating the complexities of planning applications, especially those related to renewable energy projects such as wind or solar farms. We consistently offer guidance on achieving suitable deals while addressing any planning, environmental, and ecological concerns​ head-on.

4. What are the key considerations for succession planning in a farming family?

Effective succession planning is essential to ensure the smooth transition of ownership and management to the next generation.

We understand that succession planning is critical for ensuring the smooth transition of property and business assets. Our agricultural solicitors can draft effective wills, create trusts, and provide advice on capital gains and inheritance tax, ensuring that your agricultural and business property reliefs are maximised for future generations.

5. How will changes in agricultural law affect my business, and how can I prepare for them?

A law firm that keeps up to date with agricultural law changes will be able to proactively advise clients, helping their business adapt and remain competitive.

We pride ourselves on keeping clients informed about legal developments and legal news that could impact their business operations. We always offer proactive advice to ensure that your business not only complies with current laws but is also well-prepared for future changes.

Seek agricultural and rural law advice from Hay & Kilner

Our experts are not only skilled in law but also deeply understand the ins and outs of the agricultural sector, making us the ideal partner for your legal needs. Whether you are dealing with property transactions, regulatory compliance, or dispute resolution, our team is here to support and guide you through every legal hurdle with ease.

Contact us to discuss how we can assist you with your specific agricultural or rural legal needs.

Leave a message

Send your query by clicking below and we will be in touch as soon as possible

‘Hay & Kilner’ and ‘Hay & Kilner Law Firm’ are both trading names of Hay & Kilner LLP, a limited liability partnership registered in England & Wales with registered number OC418767. Our registered office is at The Lumen, St James' Boulevard, Newcastle Helix, Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 5BZ and we are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (Authorisation number 643191). We use the word ‘partner’ to refer to a member of Hay & Kilner LLP. A list of the members is available at our registered office.