The Crofting Commission today confirmed that it has withdrawn its appeal to the Court of Session in connection with the Scottish Land Court’s decision of 18 December 2014 in the case of MacGillivray v Crofting Commission. That case concerned the Crofting Commission’s policy on decrofting where a croft unit is held in multiple ownership.
On 14 December 2012 Crofting Commissioners agreed to adopt a policy that all decrofting and letting applications in respect of crofts with multiple owners, must be submitted by all the owners, in their capacity collectively as the ‘landlord’ of the croft, even in those cases where the application related to a part of the croft held in title by only one of their number. This decision was based on legal advice obtained by the Crofting Commission but never published by them.
This is a sensible decision by the Crofting Commission and puts the position back to what it was before they decided on 14 December 2012 to interpret crofting law in a way that I do not believe was ever intended by the Scottish Government. The Land Court decision was a clear, sensible and fair one and it makes much sense for the Crofting Commission to abide by it.
There will be a huge sense of relief amongst owner-occupiers of croft land who are not classified in law as owner-occupier crofters. They can now apply to decroft land that they own without requiring the consent of neighbours who happen to be owners of part of the original croft unit. The lack of such consent in certain instances was causing huge problems for many who have been in a state of limbo for over two years now.
The Crofting Commission in their official press release have stated:-
Due to the fixed deadline for submitting an appeal, the Crofting Commission submitted a skeleton appeal to provide it with sufficient time to convene the full Commission and allow it to discuss the implications of the decision.
The Commission met last week to review the case and it was decided to withdraw the appeal and accept the ruling of the Land Court which establishes that a single owner, as the landlord of their part of the croft, are entitled to submit a regulatory decrofting application to the Commission.
The Crofting Commission had originally found Mr & Mrs MacGillivray’s application to decroft land at 37 North Ballachulish for house building to have been incompetent, therefore, the Commission could not take a decision on it. The recent Scottish Land Court ruling found the application to be competent. No decision has been made yet on the merits of the application which the Commission will now have to reconsider.
The case challenged the Commission’s policy which was adopted at its Board meeting on 14 December 2012. The policy found that all decrofting and letting applications in respect of crofts with multiple owners, must be submitted by all of the owners, in their capacity collectively as the ‘landlord’ of the croft.
The Land Court has ruled that in a multiple ownership situation one of the owners can apply independently from the other owners where the application solely relates to the land that they own.
Crofting Commission Convener, Susan Walker said “The ruling has implications on part croft owners in relation to the requirement to register the croft prior to submitting certain regulatory applications. The Commission is working to align our policy to the ruling and will begin to process applications relating to part crofts from single owners.”