Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Highland Titles Feature in Edinburgh Law Review Scottish Souvenir Plot Article

The latest issue of the Edinburgh Law Review, volume 19, was published earlier this month, it contains an article on souvenir plot ownership in Scotland, with a section dedicated to Highland Titles. Unfortunately we can't publish the article as it is copyright material, but we can, comment on it. The first few paragraphs can be seen here,

The article begins by explaining that in England and Wales, under the Land Registration and Land Charges Act 1971, the Chief Land Registrar could declare areas of land in England and Wales subject of a “souvenir land scheme". Under this scheme transfer of a souvenir plot was exempted from the normal registration requirement. Under the 1971 Act, a souvenir plot (in England & Wales) was defined as:
any piece of land which, being of inconsiderable size and little or no practical utility, is unlikely to be wanted in isolation except for the sake of pure ownership or for sentimental reasons or commemorative purpose
In England,  the Land Registration Act 2002 Schedule 13 brought souvenir plots into the land registration system by repealing the 1971 Act. Ownership of souvenir plots can now only be transferred through registration. Non of which applies in Scotland.

The situation in Scotland was (and still is) entirely different. In Scotland, in the shadow of the 1971 England & Wales act, section 4(2)(b) of the Land Registration (Scotland) Act 1979 specifically prohibits the registration souvenir plots, but unlike the England & Wales act, provides no “souvenir land scheme", and no exemption from registration to allow transfer of ownership.

The 1979 Scottish act has since been superseded by the Land Registration Act (Scotland) Act 2012. At the time this was under discussion it was considered whether to continue to prohibit the registration and therefore ownership of souvenir plots. It was decided to continue with this prohibition.

In Scotland it is not possible to register souvenir plots, registration is specifically and deliberately prohibited. In Scotland in order to become the owner of land, it must be registered, no exceptions.

The conclusion given in the article sums up the current position perfectly, it reads in part:
"One thing that is not unpredictable is the law surrounding souvenir plots, settled as it is by the recent implementation of the 2012 Act and the fact that current land reform proposals of the Scottish Government contain nothing on souvenir plots. There was no need to have recourse to Twitter to demonstrate these settled rules, but social media and the blogosphere certainly provided an ideal forum for them to be articulated to a surprisingly wide and interested audience. That audience now knows that sellers of souvenir plots are not providing their customers with ownership of land" 1.
Professional con artists like Highland Titles, and other similar disreputable companies who profit from deception, try to fool customers into believing that they become the real owner of souvenir plots in Scotland, and will lie, obfuscate, and confuse, in order to persuade them this is so, in order to get them to part with their money under false pretences.

We've said it before and we'll say it again. If you paid money for a souvenir land plot in Scotland and were led to believe you would become the owner of that plot by the seller, you have been conned, demand your money back and kick up a fuss.

Oh, and you can forget about any promised Lairdship or any other title which is suggested might come your way by owning land, that's just another lie. Even if  there was something to it (which there isn't), you can't own the land anyway!

The Edinburgh Law Review article was authored by:

Malcolm Combe, Lecturer at University of Aberdeen School of Law, and an adviser to the Land Reform Review Group.

Dr Jill Robbie, Lecturer in Private Law, University of Glasgow School of Law., with a research interest in property law.

1 Edinburgh Law Review Vol 19 September 2015, A Square Foot of Old Scotland: Ownership of Souvenir Plots, Jill Robbie and Malcolm Combe University of Glasgow and University of Aberdeen. Published by Edinburgh University Press.

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