Changes to tenancy legislation in England and Wales risk disadvantaging farmers who straddle the border, a top agricultural lawyer has warned.
Defra and the Welsh Government launched two consultations this month to seek industry views on improving agricultural tenancy law, but concerns have been raised that the reforms could increase divergence between England and Wales.
This has the potential to make life difficult for cross-border farmers, who may need to comply with two different sets of legislation.
Peter Williams, partner at law firm Michelmores, pointed out England and Wales already have different tribunals to deal with succession matters, and England has updated ‘model clauses’ governing the repair of farms protected by the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986, while Wales still relies on 1973 regulations.
He said: “As a proud Welshman, it gives me no pleasure to be critical of a state of affairs involving Wales, but the desire to maintain independence for certain regulatory law and procedure in Wales gives rise to issues which do not benefit the Welsh or those living on cross-border farms.
“Aside from the lack of modernity in Wales, consider it from the perspective of the cross-border tenant. Which law applies? This is not only an issue for a textbook writer who would much prefer uniformity.”
George Dunn, chief executive of the Tenant Farmers’ Association (TFA), told Farmers Guardian he would be highlighting the issue in the group’s response to the consultation.
“As we move increasingly towards potential for deviation, this will become an increasing problem,” he said.
“Clear guidance and rules need to be placed around what happens when there are tenancies which straddle the England-Wales border.”