Licensed shoots – Farm diversification

From oil paintings to period dramas to the Shooting Times, the shooting season is the inspiration for many quintessentially British countryside scenes. It is also a lucrative earner for landowners who licence their land for game bird shoots, game shooting and clay shoots.

As well as ensuring a shooting licence is always in place, it is important for landowners to consider the legal implications of inviting third parties onto their property.

This article gives an overview of the shooting licence itself, and outlines key considerations regarding health and safety and insurance.

Shooting licence

A licence will define the parties involved and the land they are allowed to access by way of a plan. It will include reference to the legal shooting and the taking and carrying away of game from the land.

‘Game’ will be defined to include those animals the landowner is happy to be shot i.e. pheasants, partridge and deer.

The licence fee will be stipulated. Land agents can advise on an appropriate market fee if needed.

Obligations on the part of the party taking the licence can be listed and can include the amount of people allowed to shoot at any one time, an indemnity against any damage caused, insurance references and any other obligations a landowner would like to impose to make the licence bespoke to their property.

The licence should also make it clear that the farmer maintains the right to carry on all normal and ordinary acts of agriculture and land management during the licence period.

Existing written licences should be reviewed regularly to ensure they cover current circumstances and are legally up to date.

Health and Safety

Under the Occupiers’ Liability Acts, landowners can be strictly liable for personal injury or death caused by events on their land.

Landowners cannot exclude this liability and should ensure that a full risk assessment for the shoot is carried out.

This will identify any risks and enable a landowner to take precautions to prevent accidents. Health and Safety policies and assessments should also be audited to check they are sufficiently comprehensive and robust.


Public liability insurance with minimum cover £10 million is a must. Landowners should fully disclose all activities on their land to their insurance providers and read the small print, to ensure an appropriate insurance package is put together for them.