A law firm for changing times


While the foundation of Sintons did not occur during a particularly prosperous time for British agriculture, happily we have gone on to enjoy better times since then, with our team being by the sides of farming families and business owners since 1896.

Back in the late 19th century, at a time our economy continued to suffer from the Great Depression of British Agriculture, Sintons was born.

Many a challenge has followed that time for our community – from World Wars to Brexit, climate change to a deadly global pandemic, and seemingly everything between! – but our farmers have remained steadfast and committed to their purpose, and have enabled British agriculture to be an industry we can all be proud of.

And for the past 125 years, Sintons has been proud to have been the trusted advisor to ever-increasing numbers of farming families across Northumberland, Yorkshire, County Durham and Cumbria, turning to us for expert advice and personal service time and again.

This month, we mark our 125th year in business – from starting life as Sutton Cheshire & Thompson on February 8, 1896, we then merged with John H. Sinton & Co in 1971 to become Sinton & Co, and later Sintons.

And while much has changed with the Sintons business, and indeed in the world in general, we have never lost our ethos which many liken to a ‘family business’ – we care deeply about our clients and invest the time to build long-lasting and trusting relationships. We recognise the value of personal service, in addition to the legal excellence our clients expect, and that will always be a staple of our approach.

Over the years, the law around agriculture has changed on many an occasion – as we all know, the sector is subject to much legislation, but there have been a few key points during the past century-and-a-quarter to help create the industry we have now.

The Agriculture Act of 1947 is often cited as revamping agricultural law. Providing food security after the impact of World War 2, it guaranteed prices, markets and tenure, so a farmer could be assured that his land would not be taken away and whatever he grew would be sold at a known price.

That new certainty provided the basis for farmers to grow and invest in their operations with renewed confidence, and many of our clients confirm the kickstarting of the progress of their own family businesses can be traced back to that Act.

The Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act of 1976 marked another far-reaching piece of legislation. This allowed for the succession of agricultural tenancies, so on a farmer’s death, a relative with relevant skills or experience and no holding of his own could inherit the tenancy,  limited to two generations of tenant. Again, in terms of its impact and the renewed security it provided to families, it was a landmark moment for the sector.

The Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 also remains highly significant and important in providing more detail around the operation and curtailment of such rights.

What lies ahead remains to be seen, particularly as we emerge from the ‘double whammy’ of coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic and the crippling effect that has had on the economy straight into the unknown of Brexit.

But our team at Sintons will be by the sides of clients, old and new, to support them through the turbulence, just as we have been for the last 125 years. We are proud to be a law firm for changing times, with our dedication to clients being a constant factor throughout whatever the future may hold.

If you would like any further information or to discuss any rural related matter, please contact Tom Wills, head of the agriculture & estates department at Sintons.


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