The Land Reform Review Group has published its Final Report (PDF), entitled, “The Land of Scotland and the Common Good.” It is a hefty document, both in terms of page count and file size. It also has some big ideas, which will now be considered by the Scottish Ministers and (perhaps) the Scottish Parliament.
The 62 recommendations in the report represent something of a menu for Scottish Ministers to choose from. What will be chosen will become apparent in the coming months, but initial indications point towards an approval of the bill of fare: for example, the Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Paul Wheelhouse, has welcomed the report’s, “overall vision and proposed direction of travel.”
The more eye-catching proposed reforms include:
- an “upper limit on the total amount of land in Scotland that can be held by a private land owner or single beneficial interest“;
legislation to make it “incompetent for any legal entity not registered in a member state of the European Union to register title to land in the Land Register of Scotland, to improve traceability and accountability in the public interest“; and
reform to the law of succession (inheritance), to end the traditional but quirky split between the treatment of immoveable and moveable property in Scots law (this recommendation builds on earlier work of the Scottish Law Commission).
Whilst my own role as an adviser to the LRRG has now finished, I will not be offering any thoughts on the content or indeed any subsequent analyses of the report until the Scottish Ministers take (or decide not to take) the recommendations forward. The only point that perhaps deserves reinforcement at this juncture is that land law reform clearly and inherently involves interference with existing rights, which interference always has the potential to burden a particular section of society and confuse what were thought to be settled [legal] positions. As such, reform needs to be handled sensitively. The very formation, information gathering and subsequent report of the LRRG can be seen as part of that sensitive process. Now it is over to the Scottish Ministers.