Owner-managed businesses make up the majority of businesses in the UK and take many forms including sole traders, partnerships and private companies.  

The businesses for which we act range from recently established entities to those that have been around for many generations and each has its own particular characteristics.  

In the case of family businesses, while the family dynamic can often make for a very closely aligned and complementary team, it can often bring additional complexities and sensitivities. Issues such as succession planning, family representation at board level, non-family executive leadership, strategic planning and shareholder relations add layers of complexities to the ‘normal’ trading challenges faced by every business.  

What all owner-managed businesses have in common, however, is that the individuals, boards and partners running such businesses are to a greater or lesser extent directly responsible for their own futures, and the decisions they take can and do impact upon their personal wealth and financial security to a much greater extent than those of employed managers and directors.

Our family business specialists are drawn from our corporate and private client teams and all have extensive experience of working with a broad range of owner managed businesses and the individuals behind them. Together with other relevant specialists from other areas of the firm they provide joined up advice to shareholders, directors and other stakeholders covering all aspects of the legal issues that they may encounter in running their business and managing their personal affairs.

To find out more about how our family business lawyers can assist please get in touch. 


  • Our longstanding legal advisers Shepherd and Wedderburn offered invaluable assistance and reassurance to the family shareholders in our sale and partial reinvestment when we made the transition to being an employee-owned company.

  • At Shepherd and Wedderburn "the service is excellent on all counts".


Scott & Fyfe
Scott & Fyfe, a longstanding family owned manufacturing company, decided to make the significant transition to employee ownership to facilitate retiral and exit for different generations of family shareholders. This was conducted as part of their long term succession planning whilst ensuring retention of the manufacturing centre and workforce in its local community. We advised the family on the sale of their shares to an employee benefit trust, and reinvestment of the "younger generation" share proceeds in redeemable preference shares to ensure financial stability for the company
Retirement Planning
Through an innovative structure and use of an Employee Benefit Trust, a retiring managing director was able to be bought out by 3rd generation management (including his son) and employees. He then loaned back the sale proceeds to minimise cashflow impact and avoid the need for bank debt, whilst enabling him to do advance estate planning to mitigate his and his family's IHT exposure
Managing Business Exit
Two Owner-Directors were seeking exit, but their company owned the premises. The premises were transferred to the Directors' SIPP's. Shareholder Cross Option (Protection) policies were in place although insufficient to match share value when one unexpectedly died. Our co-ordinated advice on pension/ISA planning and an MBO facilitated an exit via an unexpected route but successfully, both for the widow and the other director/spouse
A highly profitable agricultural business operated through a partnership was unwieldy for raising finance and led to heavy personal taxation liabilities on the partners. For succession planning, a structured approach was taken to incorporate the business combining the sale of the inherent goodwill to a new company controlled by the family. This enabled partial exit and realisation of capital value at 10% CGT. The structure will facilitate bringing on the children as shareholders later, differentiating between those involved in the business and those who are not, coupled with adjustment of the parents' wills to reflect any imbalances in value