Crofting communities’ right to buy process needs to be simpler, Law Society says
The Law Society of Scotland has called for simplification of the process that allows crofting communities to buy and control the croft land where they live and work.
Commenting after giving oral evidence for the Community Empowerment (Scotland) bill today, 26 November, Duncan Burd, a member of the Society’s rural affairs sub-committee, said: “The current process that crofting communities have to go through is complicated and time consuming. We agree that it needs to be simplified but don’t think the proposals go far enough.”
Under current legislation, crofting communities have an absolute right to buy and control croft land. The right can be exercised at any time and does not depend on the land being for sale. Since the introduction of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, only two applications have been made under the legislation.
In its written evidence, submitted to the Scottish Government in October, the Law Society suggested that the mapping requirements for the crofting community right to buy are onerous and should be no different to those required in a non-crofting context. For example, a lot of work would have to go into accounting for every ditch, drain and sewer.
The bill also proposes that the application form lists all interested parties, such as tenants, landlords and creditors and although the Law Society agrees this should be the case, it predicts practical difficulties in identifying persons with sporting interests on the land, as this information is unlikely to be available from the Land Register and a landlord would be under no obligation to provide it.
Mr Burd said: “We agree that the list of interested parties should be properly identified and listed on the form, however it would be unfair in our eyes if an application was rejected on the basis that the applicants could not get information they have no way of obtaining. We think a test of reasonable endeavors should be applied in this instance.”
ENDS 26 NOVEMBER 2014
Notes to editors
The Society’s full response to the Scottish Parliament’s call for evidence for the Community Empowerment (Scotland) bill can be found on the Society’s website /for-the-public/law-reform-consultations-and-bills/bills-201415/community-empowerment-(scotland)-bill/
The Bill can be found on the Scottish Parliament’s website
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Please contact Louise Docherty on 0131 476 8204 or Sarah Sutton on 0131 476 8170