#HighlandTitlesDay

10 February 2015 was an unexpectedly busy Tuesday for some Scots land lawyers. It all started when social media oddity @loveandgarbage (since retired) replied to a promoted tweet from @Highland_Titles. I interjected with a bit of chat. I don’t think anyone really expect much else to happen. Before anyone could say “souvenir plot”, a wholly unexpected Twitterstorm had broken (as digested here).

We are now one year on from that first Highland Titles Day. Anniversaries are a time for reflection, so I duly reflected in a contribution to the open-access forum The Conversation. That gives a bit more background than I will provide in this blog. It also links to two fairly recent developments in the souvenir plot world, including:

  • an Adverstising Standards Authority ruling from this year relating to an August 2015 advert, which shows the practice of selling souvenir plots with accompanying sales-speak about acquiring ownership continued long after the Twitter-spat; and
  • the representations of Highland Titles Limited to the Scottish Government asking for the law to be changed to allow for the registration of souvenir plots in Scotland.

Although not mentioned in my article in The Conversation, another bizarre recent development was reported in The Telegraph on 18 January 2016, relating to the online abuse and indeed business sabotage the Earl of Bradford has been subjected to for his involvement in the faketitles.com website. That website just so happens to question the practice of “companies like Highland Titles”.

Meanwhile, a website called Highland Titles Scam seems to have implicated me in a “nasty smear campaign”. (Things were also said about me immediately after the initial Twitterstorm.) Hmm.

Those last two paragraphs are offered without comment.

With Twitter being Twitter, a few of us have had a bit of fun with the new hashtag #HighlandTitlesDay today. I even tweeted a picture featuring Dr. Douglas Bain and me: Douglas knows a bit about souvenir plots anyway, but his real usefulness here was his impeccable taste in music (the relevance of his Manfred Mann’s Earth Band LP is further explained in The Conversation).

MMC and DB

Douglas is the cool dude on the left. I am in a Highland Titles T-shirt on the right. I repeat: I am in a Highland Titles T-shirt. Yes, someone really has had fun with this, and sent me a T-shirt to mark #HighlandTitlesDay.

Scenes.

Okay, this is fun, and maybe I have laboured this whole thing a bit, but there is still a serious point here. The first point is about people potentially being gulled into buying something, as journalist Euan McColm tweeted on the original Highland Titles Day. There are also sound policy arguments to be made against souvenir plotting, as discussed by me in The Conversation. (More detail on the policy and indeed the law can be found in an Edinburgh Law Review article co-authored by Dr. Jill Robbie and me.)

So what now? As per my blog in the aftermath of the original furore, someone may try to test this with litigation, but I think this is unlikely. (To an extent, that is borne out by the lack of litigation in the past year.) Alternatively, the Scottish Parliament may change the law, but that is not going to happen in this Holyrood term.

What seems most likely to happen, at least in the short term, is absolutely nothing. Souvenir plot hawkers will continue to hawk, albeit their terms and conditions will need to be meticulously worded to avoid referrals to bodies like the ASA. I am sure they won’t mind if people like me are watching carefully to ensure compliance with the law. Others might be watching carefully to ensure any claims of nature conservancy or the like are actually being fulfilled.

I wish you all a happy Highland Titles Day.

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About basedrones

Bachelor of Laws. Scots lawyer working at the University of Aberdeen. English law qualified. Took far too long to write this bio. Blogs on legal issues, with occasional veering into other purportedly intellectual stuff from time to time. Tweets about legal issues, education, law clinics, fitba, music, rogue cell division and not at all about politics at @MalcolmCombe.
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5 Responses to #HighlandTitlesDay

  1. Comrade Lord Glencoe says:

    Using my #HighlandTitlesDay Marxist plotster name 😉

    Was an interesting day on Twitter, thought it might have been a bit of a damp squib, but no, some very lively commenting and continued exposure of the “land laird” schemes.as a scam. Quite surprised by the number of contributors 🙂

    It isn’t just about the land laird farce though is it? Time to get serious I’m afraid.

    A note on the Bradford smear campaign. There is evidence, and it is compelling, that the person / people responsible for some of the Bradford smears, is very likely implicated in two other really quite nasty attacks on others who have also expressed concerns about Fake titles schemes.. Bradford outright names Peter Bevis as being responsible for some of the smears on his website. I’ll leave it at that without making any accusations myself, for now.

    Unfortunately that is not the end of the story, Bradford’s is not the only organisation or person who has suffered smear campaigns and fake reviews after showing concern about fake title schemes. There is little doubt that somebody out there is systematically targeting critics of these schemes, with intent to cause humiliation and harm, both to businesses and at a personal level.

    That is why I don’t use my real name, I am very aware of the potentially life changing attacks which have been made on critics of these schemes. I want to protect myself, my family, and those I associate with from suffering this kind of intimidation & harassment.

    With respect, it’s one thing when some Twitter lawyers are accused of being leftie trolls on a website which everybody is aware who really controls, it isn’t likely to get much worse than that

    It’s quite another affair for an individual, living in a foreign country to suddenly find themselves the registered owner of a website which encourages fighting dogs and in which they are a self-confessed catholic who has had three abortions, and their profile picture in the forum of a cloned website has been changed to portray them as a pole dancer. A lot of people might be inclined to think that is really them, and has the potential to cause an awful lot of very real damage.

    There is more, a lot more, family members who have taken no part in any criticism have also been targeted..There have been, stolen identity Facebook profiles, fake Facebook profiles used to post nasty reviews, poisonous blogs, fake Facebook groups, stolen identity Youtube accounts, malicious trademark registrations, on and on.

    A concerted campaign of intimidation & harassment has been waged, intended to damage critics both financially and emotionally and also to serve as a warning to others It is about time it was taken seriously, properly investigated by the authorities, and the perpetrator(s) held to account..

    There aren’t that many players in the fake titles business, the list of suspects isn’t very big.

    I’d think it in everybody’s interests, particularly the victims, but also including those of Highland Titles and others similar businesses, for the people who are doing this to be identified.

    Comrade Lord Glencoe
    #htscam

  2. wrbcg says:

    Highland Titles have the habit of setting up shill websites in names the same or very similar to those of sites critical to them. Hence, you were smeared by the HT version of highlandtitlesscam which was set up to divert (or at least confuse) people seeking to find out about Highland Titles and the Bevis Family’s scams away from the critical site https://highlandtitlesscam.wordpress.com/. Note too the post by Laird Glencoe – a shill set up to counter the hostile Lord Glencoe.

    It is a very odd conincidence that from when I first started to criticise this trade in souvenir plots (though without targetting anmy particular vendor) 5 years ago, I was suddemnly subjected to numerous, anonymous on-line attacks and smears. The nastiest, to my mind, was the uploading of an offensive video (which Google rated unsuitable for under 18s) under the name of my then 13 year old niece!

    If the trade were so honest and reputable, it would not need to stoop to the tactics of sewer rats.

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