Ben Sharples


Originally a rural practice chartered surveyor who retrained as a lawyer, Michelmores’ Ben Sharples specialised in agricultural litigation before a specific matter related to the emerging area of natural capital came his way during lockdown. Since then, similar instructions have flowed, with Sharples advising the likes of the World Wildlife Fund, The Forestry Commission, the Duchy of Cornwall and The Woodland Trust on biodiversity net gain, nutrient neutrality and landscape recovery. He has advised the former on the regulations relating to the licensing for the restoration of seagrass and seaweed farming to enable the sequestration of carbon in seagrass, and the latter on carbon markets: The Woodland Trust currently administer the only woodland carbon market scheme in the UK.

The coming year will focus on green investment and the intellectual challenge that comes with structuring new joint ventures so they work for both landowner and investors. There are also the effects of political manoeuvring to contend with, with Sharples having to negotiate sudden shifts in government policy in order to get deals through.
If working in an emerging field is sometimes “like a bit of driftwood being chucked around in the storm”, the shift in his practice has a pleasurable benefit: it means that Sharples now works much more closely with other partners in the firm rather than being off in his own world of niche disputes. The agricultural litigation work continues, but natural capital is now a key area for Michelmores and Sharples is at its centre.