Michael McNally



Michael’s particular area of expertise is in advising rural clients and in particular landed estates, stately homes, grouse moors, major shooting agencies and bodies, rural businesses, farms, country sports and countryside bodies, hunts and shoots in relation to a wide variety of disputes and other matters. These matters typically include disputes over sporting rights, boundaries, access rights and trespass.

Michael also advises not only rural clients but also commercial clients and regulatory bodies over employment matters of all kinds, both contentious and non-contentious. His employment work includes handling redundancy programmes, TUPE related transfers, buy-outs and reorganisations. His contentious employment work includes handling employment claims of all kinds, including all aspects of discrimination. Michael has handled many employment tribunal claims both for employers and employees.

Michael’s equestrian work includes handling disputes over the purchase and sale of horses, the bringing on of horses, equestrian joint ventures and contract and misrepresentation disputes over equestrian equipment and premises, as well as non-contentious agreements over the loan, sale, grazing and livery of horses.

Michael acts for claimants and defendants in country sports, countryside and animal related personal injury claims, particular accidents in the shooting field and accidents involving animals both on and off the road. Michael is a leading expert in the application of the strict liability provisions of the Animals Act 1971.

Michael also advises countryside and country sports clients on health and safety matters in relation to shooting and riding/hunting – for example, over wearing of hunt caps and safety hats.

Michael also handles professional negligence claims and defamation claims, again, mostly for those involved in farming and land management.

Michael also acts for commercial clients in commercial disputes over breach of contract, frustration of contracts, breach of commercial agreements and breach of post termination covenants.

Michael has extensive experience of handling court cases in the County Court, High Court, Court of Appeal and the House of Lords (now the Supreme Court).

If Michael is unavailable please contact, Claire Blackman, 01732 375377, c.blackman@warners.law


  • Burge and another v Haycock and another (2001) EWCA Civ 900 Court of Appeal: case decided that the scope of the tort of passing off could include elections/political activity (this is the leading case on this point)
  • Cross v Kirkby (2000) QBENF 99/0526/A2 Court of Appeal: clarified law of self defence and doctrine of ex turpi causa (this is one of the leading cases in these areas, especially in a civil context)
  • Sawrij and others v Lynx (helping abused animals) Ltd and others (1992) Court of Appeal: clarification of the circumstances in which enforcement can be stayed
  • Sawrij and others v Lynx (helping abused animals) Ltd and others (1994) Court of Appeal: clarification of the circumstances in which a wasted costs order can be made
  • Brigden v American Express Bank Ltd (200) IRLR 94 High Court (QBD): applicability of Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 to employment contracts

Some of Michael’s cases in 2016 have included:

  • Advising an estate and stately home over a dispute with an adjoining farm in relation to the extent of the estate’s sporting rights – in particular, the right to shoot
  • Advising a major grouse moor in relation to a dispute with Natural England over the extent of the landowner’s sporting rights and negotiating a settlement with Natural England
  • Acting for a major estate in successful resisting a local landowner’s application for adverse possession over part of the estate
  • Advising a large estate in a dispute with a neighbouring equestrian centre over the extent of the equestrian centre’s access rights
  • Acting for the owner of a substantial farmhouse in a boundary dispute; after the issue of court proceedings, the case proceeded to binding arbitration in which the arbitrator decided in our client’s favour as to the position of the boundary
  • Continuing to provide the helpline (as we have for many years) for a leading specialist legal expenses insurer under their insurance policy for farms and estates, covering rural legal problems of all kinds from registering mineral rights to trespass and boundary disputes

Recognition & Memberships

  • Chairman of the regulatory sub-committee of Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and District Law Society (and President of that Society in 2008 to 2009)
  • Chairman of the regulatory sub-committee of Kent Law Society

Warners are rated by top legal directory The Legal 500 as a top tier firm for agriculture and estates and the Legal 500 and the other leading legal directory, Chambers UK, have said the following about Michael:

Legal 500 2017 – Recommended Lawyer in Agriculture & Estates and Sport Law

Chambers UK 2017 – Michael McNally is a litigator, primarily acting for shoots, landed estates, hunts and properties working with animals. He advises on sporting rights, boundary disputes and equine sales and purchases.

Chambers UK 2016 – Michael McNally focuses on rural disputes, including breach of contract and liability for animal actions. “He is available and gives advice in a very practical, clear and concise way,” a client reports. He also advises clients on rural employment matters.

Chambers UK 2015 – Agriculture – Michael McNally advises private clients within the rural and agricultural sector. His areas of expertise include rural employment and contentious work involving property and commercial activities.

Chambers UK 2015 – Employment – Michael McNally specialises particularly in acting for countryside and country sports clients, such as estates, hunts, equestrian bodies, farms and grouse moors. Clients appreciate his “clear, coherent and accurate advice.”

News & Insights

Michael McNally heads the department and specialises in employment litigation, acting primarily for hunts, shoots, landed estates and animal-related organisations. Tim Ryan is the other key figure, and has substantial expertise in criminal and regulatory law related to country sports.

Legal 500 – 2017

Michael McNally is the best Employment Lawyer that we have come across.  Most Employment Lawyers have no idea of the rural world, but Michael has!  However, we do not just limit his involvement in our own businesses and our client’s affairs to employment matters to the rural world – Michael deals with our retail business and professional practice as well.  He is outstanding in this field.

Mark Osborne, Managing Director of J.M. Osborne & Co (Chartered Surveyors and Land Agents) and William Powell (Gunmakers and Retailers of Country Clothing)

Michael McNally is a litigator, primarily acting for shoots, landed estates, hunts and properties working with animals. He advises on sporting rights, boundary disputes and equine sales and purchases.

Chambers UK 2017