There are many legal issues in the rural economy. In Dorset, Hampshire, West Sussex and Wiltshire there are many family owned businesses, particularly farms and agricultural related enterprises, for which succession is a crucial factor to be considered. Who has the skills in the business to take over the leadership and management of the farm, estate or whatever is the purpose and nature of the business?

Added to succession, another key element to the long term success of any business is its strategy and strategic vision. What does the Board of Directors or business owner want the enterprise to look like in three, five or ten years time? How do they want it to look and feel like? What will be measures of success?

Succession is vital to secure the long term commercial security of the business. There are legal issues and other commercial consequences associated with it which require careful professional consideration. Is the structure of the business right to attract external investors and/talent? Are there the relevant skills sets within the family? If not, does anyone have the aptitude or motivation to seek to develop them? Should one be looking outside the family to strengthen the leadership and management team? Will such a person be an employee, consultant or director? Will he or she be offered shares in the business? How will this impact on the dynamics of the business and those working within it? Will the culture be preserved or how does one manage the risk of it being damaged by the introduction of new faces in leadership roles?

We are in challenging times at present with a mix of elements causing uncertainty – the European factor created by Brexit and the apparent stalemate within The House of Commons, global politics, leadership within the British political parties and national economics to name a few. These factors focus the mind in the short term. However one must not lose sight of the longer term and the fact that life goes on. The need to plan for the future and putting in place the practical, commercial and legal framework to meet your goals and ambitions and those of your business, whether it be agricultural or otherwise, must not be overlooked. 

Read on to see the full article on these issues which appeared in the Law Society Gazette recently.