The Scottish Land Court and the Lands Tribunal for Scotland could amalgamate as an expanded Scottish Land Court, under Scottish Government proposals now out for consultation.

The two bodies already 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, as the Land Court deals with agricultural and crofting tenants' rights whereas the Lands Tribunal is concerned with certain property rights as well as rating valuation appeals; and they have separate administrative staff and systems.

Amalgamating the two bodies has been considered previously. In the mid-1970s, there were discussions on absorbing the Land Court into the Lands Tribunal, but there was little support for abolishing the Land Court, which had always been held in regard as the bastion of tenants’, and particularly crofting tenants’, rights.

Now ministers are seeking views on whether there are advantages in a reverse amalgamation, by incorporating the Lands Tribunal for Scotland into the Land Court.

The paper also requests 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; and
  • the power of the Land Court to award expenses under the Rural Payments (Appeals) (Scotland) Regulations 2015.

Click here to access the paper. The deadline for responses is 19 October 2020.