This is really where I started from and indeed provided me with the first key to unlocking some of the confusion, and uncovering how the scam works.
So lets ask the question and see where it goes.
Is it or is it not legal to call oneself Laird, Lord, or Lady by fact of owning a small piece of land in the UK?
All of the people selling these "plots with titles" claim it is legal. Well, that is one way of putting it, and putting it that way makes it appear that there is a law somewhere which says specifically that it is legal. There is no such law, it does not exist anywhere in the UK period. So saying that it is legal isn't exactly wrong, but it is very misleading, and deliberately so.
Let's put it another way and say it the other way round, it is not illegal do so. That puts an entirely different slant on the matter, one which the purveyors of these titles would rather you not think about! As soon as you think about it as not being illegal the penny drops. If you care to investigate you will find that the law neither says it is legal or illegal. There is no law which says specifically that it is illegal.
The law actually has nothing to say about the legality of it one way or the other, so by saying it is legal, what the seller actually means, is that it is not specifically illegal, but that does not sound as good, does it? They are in effect saying it is legal because it is not specifically illegal!
A cowboy builder can take advantage of a pensioner showing signs of demetia by charging thousands of pounds for a few hours work. This morally repulsive behaviour relies on the confusion and lack of knowledge of the victim, it is not however illegal. In the same way I believe Lochaber Higland Estates, Highland Titles etc. rely on lack of knowledge, confusion, and misinformation to good effect (for them!), and to greatly enhance their ill gotten profits.
Highland Titles say you can change your title using their Master Title Deed, but cannot provide any documentation showing what this is based on, it is completely without foundation.
I found some offical UK Government advice on the subject from the Home Office in the following document, http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/agencies-public-bodies/ips/passports-policy-publications/titles-included-in-passports?view=Binary This advice is applicable to the so called titles supplied by Highland Titles.
"There are companies that change an individual's name to include a title. Legal advice has been sought on this issue and the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) policy is based on the advice received.
It is clear an individual can call themselves any name they wish providing is not for a fraudulent purpose. However, it is believed there is no legal basis for a person to change their title: e.g. from Mr to Lord. It follows, therefore, that applicants have the right to change their name, for example, from Mr John Smith to Mr Sir John Smith and adopt "Sir" as an additional forename. But they cannot change their title from Mr John Smith to Sir John Smith.
As there is a right for an applicant to change their name by deed poll, the presumed title can appear on the personal details page of the passport as a forename with an observation being entered relating to the name change. An observation is required in any case where there is the potential for any name change to mislead; this includes reference to a title and to maintain the integrity of the passport.
In cases where an applicant has adopted a description of a title of nobility as a forename the observation to be entered is:
• THE REFERENCE TO .............................................. IS TO THE HOLDER'S NAME AND NOT TO THE HOLDER'S TITLE.(e.g. LORD; SIR; BARON; ETC.)
This observation should automatically be placed in the passport of any such applicant and there is no need to contact them unless the application form is completed in a way that indicates the customer believes they are applying for a change of title rather than of name. In these circumstances the applicant should be advised of how the data will be displayed in the passport and of the observation that will be entered in the document.
The above observation should also be used in all renewal applications where the children's and adult's birth names are similarly misleading, for example where names on birth certificates are registered as Princess, Prince, Earl, Duke, etc."
The real point is not whether or not it is illegal but whether or not it is true, and the answer to that is quite simple, no it is not, There is no documentary evidence which would indicate that the fact of owning land in Scotland entitles the owner of that land to any from of title. If it was true every homeowner in Scotland would be titled, but they are not.
Highland Titles said on their website "As the owner of a Scottish estate, you will have the full rights to style yourself as a Laird (Lord) or Lady. This is the same wherever you live in the world. You do not need to live in the UK or be a British citizen." If that is true you can do exactly the same thing without being a Scottish Landowner, when it comes to assumed titles there is no difference in Scottish Law between landowners and non landowners. The fact of owning land has nothing to do with the matter.
The logic of the fake title sellers goes like this, a Laird is someone who owns land in Scotland, therefore anyone who own land in Scotland is therefore a Laird, this is utter nonsense, If we apply the same logic to a King we could say that a King is someone who has a crown so anyone who has a crown is therefore a King! Being a King involves a lot more than someone having a crown, and similarly a Laird involves a lot more than someone who merely owns land.
This is what The Court Of The Lord Lyon has to say on the matter.
"The term ‘laird’ has generally been applied to the owner of an estate, sometimes by the owner himself or, more commonly, by those living and working on the estate. It is a description rather than a title, and is not appropriate for the owner of a normal residential property, far less the owner of a small souvenir plot of land. It goes without saying that the term ‘laird’ is not synonymous with that of ‘lord’ or ‘lady’"
Can you put your Highland Titles title on a UK driving license, in a word, NO!
From a Freedom of Information request to the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency ( DVLA) UK
"When a Title deed is received requesting a change of title e.g. “Mr” to “Lord”, a check of “Who’s Who” (held on some Input teams and Business Support) or “Debretts” (held in Open Resource Centre, A Block) must be undertaken. This will establish whether the title has been ‘bought’ or has been obtained as a genuine title. If a title cannot be located in either publication it is safe to assume it has been ‘bought’. In such cases the application must be rejected for a Deed Poll or Statutory Declaration as evidence of a change of name.
'Bought’ titles do not give rights to a spouse. For example a female applicant could not claim the title of “Lady” on the strength of her husband buying a title in his name only. She must submit a Deed Poll either in her own name or as part of a joint title.
The applicant should be advised that we are following the practice of the UK Passport Agency in doing this and consequently, our procedures are subject to change in the future
The bought title (Lord, Baron etc) should form the first forename. The title code 4 or 5 should be used to suppress any other title."
Yet Highland Titles said on their website of the FAQ page under the "Can I change my bank account, credit cards, drivers license?" heading.
"Yes, we include in each gift pack the legal Master Title Deed accepted internationally to confirm your new title to your bank and any government agencies. You will be able to change your title on official documentation to Laird, Lord or Lady." (note this text has been changed on later vesions of the website)