Derek is a Partner in the Agriculture and Landed Estates teams.
He specialises in disputes relating to rural land and agricultural business contracts. With several years’ in-house experience with the NFU, he is familiar with the sector-specific terms and conditions agreed by the various agri-food trade bodies and has advised on many breaches of contract between suppliers, processors, merchants and others regarding the supply of sub-standard goods and services. He also acts in cases relating to pricing mechanism disputes; termination of agreements; professional negligence involving vets or agronomists; claims of nuisance following incidents such as flooding and spray drift; and DEFRA or police investigations. He has acted in disputes over a wide range of services and products including grain, potatoes, milk, straw (biomass), renewable energy, farm machinery and plant.
His work with rural landowners and developers in respect of public rights of way, village greens and coastal access is broad. It includes objecting to Definitive Map Modification Orders (DMMOs); responding to applications for establishing or upgrading public rights of way brought by members of the public or interest groups; advising on or objecting to Natural England’s proposals for the alignment of the English Coastal Path; applications to divert public rights of way on grounds of security, privacy, or development; and on installation of gates across public rights of way to contain livestock or prevent unauthorised access.
He also advises landowners on agricultural property disputes regarding adverse possession, boundaries, easements, private rights of way and access, overage, and farm tenancies.
Recent examples of how Derek has supported clients include:
- obtaining the relevant order from the local authority as part of a strategy to divert a public right of way to a field away from our client’s home and garden;
- protecting the future profitability of a housing development, by advising a developer on a DMMO application in regard to an alleged historic right of way;
- successfully fending off an overage claim in excess of £150,000;
- successfully defending a seed potato grower in a £3 million breach of contract claim under British Potato Trade Association rules;
- protecting the landmark Vixen Tor on Dartmoor by preventing public access over farmland, in a case which made national news;
- obtaining compensation for dairy farmers who had been supplied with defective sexed semen, including for loss of revenues;
- helping to prevent the penalisation of a number of farmers and recovering wrongly obtained retrospective penalties from the Ministry of Agriculture in a case while with the NFU - R v Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, ex parte WH Strawson and JA Gagg (2002);
- helping to secure millions of pounds of EU aid for UK farmers in a case where the NFU challenged the interpretation of EU regulations - R v Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, ex parte J.H. Cooke & Sons (2000);
- obtaining compensation for farmers affected by the 2008 outbreak of foot and mouth disease in a case backed by the NFU - D Pride and Partners and Others v Institute for Animal Health and Others QBD (2009).