The Scottish Land Court has issued a decision to the effect that an application by Colin Kennedy, Convener of the Crofting Commission, to purchase his Apportionment at Arinagour Common Grazings on the Isle of Coll is incompetent.
Mr Kennedy pursued a series of Land Court actions with individuals and also had a long running dispute with the Crofting Commission, on a personal basis, over a number of years seeking to secure rights in the Common Grazings and obtain an Apportionment.
An Apportionment was finally granted in his favour by the Crofting Commission on 31 October 2014 although it did not take in areas of the Common Grazings originally desired by Mr Kennedy.
Having obtained the Apportionment, on which he has erected three wind turbines and a shed with plans to construct a croft house, Mr Kennedy then sought to purchase it from the Landlord, Martin Smith. The Landlord refused to sell and Mr Kennedy brought an application to the Land Court to purchase.
I represented Mr Smith at the hearing before the Land Court.
It has long been established in crofting law that there is no right under the Crofters (Scotland) Act 1993 to purchase an Apportionment that is not adjacent or contiguous to another part of the crofter’s croft. Mr Kennedy’s apportionment was a ‘deemed croft’ under the legislation and it was settled law that such a ‘croft’ could not be adjacent to itself.
However, Mr. Kennedy argued that such settled law was overturned by the registration requirements under the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 2010. He maintained that under the 2010 Act a ‘deemed croft’ became a ‘croft’ when registered in the Crofting Register as his Apportionment had been.
Lord Minginish , in delivering the Land Court’s decision said:-
Mr Kennedy’s argument was ingenious and not without a certain logic. But the problem it cannot evade and fails to deal with satisfactorily is the terms of sec 12(3) of the Act, which remain unamended by the 2010 Act.
In so finding the application was refused as incompetent by the Land Court.
The period of appeal to the Court of Session has expired without an appeal being lodged by Mr Kennedy and the Land Court has found Mr Kennedy liable to Mr Smith for the expenses of the application.
Thus Mr Kennedy remains a tenant of the Apportionment at Arinagour Common Grazings.
Read the full decision on the Scottish Land Court website: Kennedy v Smith [SLC/81/15]
Download a copy of the case: Kennedy v- Smith [PDF]