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rural lawyer in watertight shooting lease plea

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MFG has called on the UK’s landowners and shooting syndicates to cover every possible angle when negotiating the terms of complex Shooting Leases.

A partner and rural affairs expert at Midland-based MFG Solicitors, is determined that those taking out Shooting Leases for sporting rights don’t fall foul of the numerous potential pitfalls.

MFG’s spokeperson said: “It’s imperative for landowners and shooting syndicates to enter into a comprehensive lease agreement. Not only will a watertight arrangement help the landowner’s estate management plan, by providing them with a determinable income stream, it also allows syndicates or gamekeepers to put a timetable in place to enable them to prepare for the season’s shooting.

During the past few years there have been many examples across rural communities of disputes between landowners, gamekeepers and shooting syndicates. These disputes mostly relate to land rights, building use, types of ammunition and even insurance. By their nature, these disputes can be complicated, intricate issues, but can be avoided with an appropriate and fully understandable Shooting Lease.”

MFG, a respected voice on a variety of rural legal matters, have taken time to set out a five point ‘pitfall plan’. This gives an overview of the crucial pitfalls to be aware of and underlines the importance of a professionally-prepared Shooting Lease.

A summary of the five points is below:

  • If a Shooting Lease is not in place, a landowner could ask a syndicate or gamekeeper to leave their land at any point in time.
  • A Shooting Lease enables the landowner to specify certain terms which may be important to them. This can cover exact days on which shooting can take place, VAT responsibility and even a specification that only fibre wad cartridges are used.
  • A Shooting Lease must be made by deed and, if the term is for a period greater than seven years, it must also be registered with H M Land Registry.
  • Even if Stamp Duty Land Tax is not payable upon the grant of a Shooting Lease, a Stamp Duty Land Tax Return may still be required by H M Revenue & Customs.
  • If a building, such as a game keeper’s cottage, gun room or game larder, is rented along with any shooting rights, then the landowner must ensure the lease is drafted in a manner that will ensure the landlord can obtain possession of the land and shooting rights when the lease expires.
  • Mr Devey added: “Many organisers of rural shoots overlook the finer details of a Shooting Lease and often find this causes problems further down the line. It’s something I want to help those people avoid.

    “Putting a Shooting Lease in place isn’t difficult. It’s like an insurance policy and legal specialists with a sound understanding of rural affairs should be consulted to ensure any potential issues are avoided. It’s a difficulty landowners and shooting syndicates don’t need to have.”