Monthly Archives: April 2013

Absentee Crofters may take their fight to the European Courts

European Court of Human RightsThe BBC have reported that absentee crofters being evicted by the Crofting Commission for not residing on their crofts have joined forces to challenge the decision and have indicated that they may take their fight to the European Courts.

The BBC issued two reports on 11 April:-

The second of these includes a video containing interviews with Jeremy Gow, who can keep his croft house but has been evicted by the Crofting Commission from the surrounding croft land, and Susan Walker, Convenor of the Crofting Commission.

Jeremy Gow says:-

I’m a Scot and I am getting my land taken away from me. It is only 4 acres. We are in the Highland Clearance at the moment.

Susan Walker responds:-

Since the action on this has started over 280 crofters have now returned to their crofts and there have only been 30 terminations.

New Chief Executive at the Crofting Commission

Catriona Maclean - New Chief Executive of the Crofting CommissionCatriona Maclean is the new Chief Executive of the Crofting Commission.

Catriona is from a crofting family who live on the Isle of Lewis. Born in Glasgow her family returned to Lewis where she completed her secondary education at the Nicolson Institute.

Catriona previously worked with the Crofters Commission for over 14 years in various roles, including Head of Regulation.

Commenting from her home in Inverness, Catriona said:-

I am delighted to have been appointed Chief Executive of the Crofting Commission. It is 25 years since I first worked in the Crofters Commission and while both the organisation and I have evolved and progressed, crofting has remained a key element in my life. This is an exciting time for crofting and I am looking forward to working with everyone at the Commission and our partners, to ensure that the Crofting Commission is modern, relevant and makes a real difference to crofting and the people of Scotland.

Convener of the Crofting Commission, Susan Walker, commenting on the appointment said:-

The Crofting Commission has experienced a lot of change over the last year, with a new name, a new Act, new Commissioners, new Convener, new Assessor panel and the retirement in November 2012 of Chief Executive, Nick Reiter. The appointment of Catriona Maclean as our Chief Executive completes the renewal and change process. In her current post within the Grampian and Highlands Criminal Justice Board, Catriona has demonstrated an ability to work innovatively and collaboratively on various projects to develop better, more efficient ways of team working.

The past year has, of course, also seen, from a crofting law point of view, (a) the decision from the Scottish Land Court on the reference from the Commission on questions concerning common grazings shares; (b) the introduction of the new Crofting Register; (c) the Commission halting owner-occupied croft decrofting and keeping the legal advice behind that top secret; and (d) continuing controversy over the Commission’s approach to ‘absentee’ crofters.

As recently reported on this blog, following the debate on the proposed introduction of a Decrofting Bill, Tavish Scott MSP said:-

I am very concerned that many crofters have little or no faith in the Commission.

They have an important regulatory role over crofting but their handling of this matter has brought real financial difficulties to many people.

So the Commission has a big task in re-establishing its credibility in the crofting counties.

Catriona Maclean will be faced with that unenviable task when she takes up her new position as Chief Executive of the Crofting Commission in mid-May.

Brian Inkster

Scottish Land Court Technology

Laser Pointer in the Scottish Land CourtFor those of you who do not know: when I am not blogging about crofting law I am blogging about the past, present and future practice of law at The Time Blawg. I have, for the first time, been able to combine the two with a post about Technology and the Scottish Land Court. I originally wrote the post for The Time Blawg due to the Legal Technology / Future Law slant. I also wrote it before I launched the Crofting Law Blog but only got around to posting it today. So it can be found over at The Time Blawg but I thought I would post a link to it from here given that there is, of course, also a crofting law slant to the post.

Link: Technology and the Scottish Land Court at The Time Blawg

Brian Inkster