David Clarke interviews Turcan Connell Land and Property Partners, Grierson Dunlop and Don Macleod on Land Reform in Scotland issues facing land owners, at Princes Exchange, 1 Earl Grey Street, Edinburgh, EH3 9EE.
Grierson Dunlop and Don Macleod discuss the pertinent issue of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016.
Hello and welcome to the Turcan Connell video cast on issues surrounding land. I'm David Clarke and I'm here with Don Macleod and Grierson Dunlop and we're going to be talking about issues surrounding land reform. So Don, tell us, what's the status of legislation at the moment with this?
So we now have an Act, the Act received Royal Assent in April so it is law after a relatively intense and short debate. Whilst the Act is now law it's not actually in force yet, the implementation timetable is currently slightly uncertain but it's unlikely that the government will hang around for too long before bringing the main sections at least into force. Whilst the Act is there, one of the interesting features all along really has been that so much of the detail is left to secondary legislation, so the actual fine details and nuts and bolts of really lots of the detail is yet to pan out. That will pan out and come into sharper definition over the next few months, so we are in a slightly curious position where we have the Act, we have most of the law but we don't have all of it.
Okay, so Grierson we've just had Scottish Parliamentary Elections, does this change anything in relation to the legislation?
I don't think it does particularly, obviously the Act was brought in under a majority SNP government, the SNP are still in government, albeit not with a majority, but interestingly the fact that we have a greater number of Green MSPs including Andy Wightman the renowned land reform campaigner may actually accelerate the process and may actually put more pressure on the government to accelerate their land reform programme which we've said before, it's a process and not an event. One good thing is with a slightly broader church of MSPs we would hope that maybe greater scrutiny of legislation through the committee process for further legislation and as the secondary legislation is brought in as Don has mentioned.
So Don, are there challenges with this, is it going to be challenged?
We think it's quite likely that there will be judicial challenges. There are certainly issues in the Act as to whether the law complies with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights. There are opinions both ways but there are definitely issues, which could potentially cause problems in the future. Agricultural holdings legislation which accounts for more than half of the Act has a relatively chequered history with ECHR, the well known case of Salvesen against Riddell which involved an agricultural tenancy was the first time where a provision of an Act of the Scottish Parliament was struck down by courts on the basis that it didn't comply with the ECHR. Scottish Land and Estates appealed to the Lord Advocate to look into these issues on a couple of provisions in the Bill before it received Royal Assent. The Lord Advocate declined to look into it but it's certainly possible that we haven't seen the last of these sorts of challenges.
Don, Grierson thank you very much. So for more information on how Turcan Connell can help you with land related issues go to the website turcanconnell.com, or check us out on Twitter and LinkedIn.