This is a quick and rather niche post on transparency of landownership in Scotland.
I have blogged on this topic before. As noted in that post, Part 3 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 has provisions about transparency, which aim to provide more information than (say) the name of an overseas company and the address of a postbox in that company’s home country. Regulations are going to follow on from that legislation to flesh out that publicity driven scheme.
This post is inspired by my recent interaction with a statute that deals with letting agents in the private rented sector, namely the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014.
Section 30 of that legislation is about registration of letting agents. It provides that anyone who wants to be on that register must provide the Scottish Ministers with certain details. What an application must contain is extracted below. For present purposes, it is worth noting when an applicant is not a natural person (i.e. the letting agent is not a human being), the applicant must state “the name and address of the individual who holds the most senior position within the management structure of the relevant partnership, company or body”. Another stipulation for a non-human applicant is that the name and address of any other person (i.e. not just the senior position holder) who owns 25% or more of the applicant entity must be provided.
Might that be a workable model for non-humans seeking entry to the Land Register of Scotland?
For those that don’t know (and I hope all law students who have sat a module in property law are not in this camp), registration is a step that must be satisfied before ownership of land can be obtained in Scotland. (I have blogged and written about this before too, in the context of souvenir plots.) Making non-provision of that information something that denies entry to the Land Register would therefore deny the chance of landownership to a hypothetical information hoarder.
For reference, an extract of section 30, subsection (2) follows. According to that a letting agent application must:
(a) state the name and address of the applicant,
(b) state whether the applicant is—
(i) trading as a sole trader,
(ii) a partnership,
(iii) a company, or
(iv) a body with some other legal status,
(c) in the case where the applicant is a company registered under the Companies Act 2006, state the company’s registered number,
(d) in the case where the applicant is not a natural person, state the name and address of the individual who holds the most senior position within the management structure of the relevant partnership, company or body,
(e) state the name and address of any other person who—
(i) owns 25% or more of an applicant which is not a natural person, or
(ii) otherwise is (or is to be) directly concerned with the control or governance of the applicant’s letting agency work (whether or not the applicant is a natural person), and
(f) include such other information as the Scottish Ministers may by regulations prescribe.
It may be that someone has thought of this or a similar analogy already. (I had a cursory look around the internet using a well-known search engine and found nothing.) If anyone has done so, do point me towards such thoughts by commenting below.