The Scottish Land Court and the Lands Tribunal for Scotland are both well respected fora dealing with various types of dispute involving land or property. There is a close relationship between the Court and the Tribunal; they share the same offices, and, at present, the Chair of the Land Court is also President of the Lands Tribunal. However, the work they do is quite distinct, and they have separate administrative staff and systems.
The idea of amalgamating the two bodies is not new. In the mid-1970s, there were discussions on absorbing the Land Court into the Lands Tribunal, but these were not progressed as, at that time, there was little support for abolishing the Court. It had always been held in regard as the bastion of tenants’, and particularly crofting tenants’, rights. It had come into being as part of a statutory regime put in place to protect these rights in the wake of the Highland Clearances of the 19th century and the land “wars” which followed. This view of the Court endures to this day, particularly, but not exclusively, in the Highlands.
Recognising the historical significance of the Court, in this consultation, we are seeking views on whether there are advantages to be found in unifying the two bodies by incorporating the Lands Tribunal for Scotland into an expanded Scottish Land Court.
We are also taking the opportunity to explore views on four administrative matters.
- Arrangements when the legal members of the Court or Tribunal have to recuse themselves from a case.
- The need for a Gaelic speaker at the Land Court.
- The power of the Lands Tribunal to award expenses under the Title Conditions (Scotland) Act 2003.
- The power of the Land Court to award expenses under the Rural Payments (Appeals) (Scotland) Regulations 2015.
Thank you for taking the time to respond to the consultation and we look forward to receiving your considered views on the subject.