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 Crofting law solicitors

Crofting law solicitors

Our team has extensive knowledge of the law related to crofting, with lead Partner Calum MacLeod, a fluent Gaelic speaker, advising both crofters and landowners on all crofting law matters.

Overview

Crofting law & legal advice

Crofts are underpinned by statute – largely now the Crofters (Scotland) Act 1993 – and are regulated by the Crofting Commission. Crofting legislation in Scotland affects crofts contained within certain specified “crofting counties”. Traditionally these were the counties of Argyll, Caithness, Inverness, Orkney, Ross and Cromarty, Sutherland and Zetland.

We have experience of advising on the best methods of developing on croftland and adopting the best approach depending on the circumstances. We are also able to provide specialist advice on both renewable energy and crofting law, which is becoming an increasingly important combination.

Calum MacLeod is a member of the Law Society of Scotland’s Rural Affairs Committee and is a frequent contributor to high level discussions on crofting law reform. In addition to frequent TV and radio appearances, he regularly presents on matters such as crofting and renewables at major conferences.

Calum Macleod is an accredited specialist in crofting law and as at 2021, only one of two in Scotland.

Law Society of Scotland

Services

Our services

We advise crofting landlords, crofting tenants, owner-occupiers, and those developing on croftland.

Developing on croftland

Overview

There can be pitfalls for crofters, landowners and developers alike in trying to develop on Croftland. If the crofter is developing project then an application for decrofting may be appropriate.

There may also be opportunities for the crofter to develop without decrofting or indeed owning the land, and we have advised on regulatory applications to the Crofting Commission to facilitate all sorts of development.

In other cases, for example a landlord developing an application may need to be made to the Land Court, and we have advised on all types of applications to the Scottish Land Court.

For third parties the correct legal approach may depend on whether it’s a crofter of landlord who you are dealing with so it is important to take early advice.

Applications to the Crofting Commission

Overview

We are experienced in all types of applications to the Crofting Commission including advising on Decrofting applications, apportionment applications, assignation, succession, division, letting and sub-letting and all other dealings with the Crofting Commission.

Community rights to buy and land reform

Overview

We have particular expertise in advising on the Community Right to Buy, and the Crofting Community Right to Buy under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 and 2016. We have advised many community bodies and indeed landowners on the application of the legislation. In addition we have advised on community buy-outs which have proceeded outwith the terms of the legislation.

Crofting and renewables

Overview

We have particular expertise in crofting and renewables. Quite often renewables projects in the Highlands and islands are on croftland and crofting common grazings.

Projects are therefore likely to require a form of consent from the Crofting Commission, depending on the size of the project and who is developing. We have particular expertise on Section 19A “Scheme for Development” applications.

We have advised on croftland renewables projects both large and small. Some have proceeded through applications to the Crofting Commission, and some have required land Court consent.

Exercise of the crofters rights to buy

Overview

We have advised both (i) landlords; and (ii) crofting tenants on the sale and purchase of crofts under the crofting rights to buy. We have advised on sales outwith the terms of the Crofters (Scotland) Act 1993, and indeed have advised on applications to the Scottish Land Court under the crofting right to buy.

Resumption applications and decrofting applications

Overview

When part of a croft is being developed or sold, whether that is the croft house, or another part of a croft, or even where a mortgage is required, then it may be appropriate to remove the land in question from crofting regulation.

There is more than one approach to remove land from crofting regulation and we are experienced in both resumption application to the Scottish Land Court, and application for decrofitng to the Crofting Commission.

Sale and purchase of crofting estates

Overview

We have acted in both the sale and purchase of crofting estates (either whole or parts of crofting estates). We have advised landowners’ who are selling, prospective owners who have purchased, and indeed Community Bodies who have purchased crofting estates.

Boundary disputes on croftland

Overview

The plan based Register of Crofts have meant that boundary disputes have become more common place, or have been brought to the fore. We are able to advise on the amicable resolution of these boundary disputes and indeed challenges to croft boundary registration to the Scottish Land Court.

Useful links

Boundary disputes

Work

Our work
Crofting and renewables

Overview

We have advised on croftland renewables projects both large and small. Some have proceeded through applications to the Crofting Commission, and some have required land Court consent.

If it is a crofter developed project then an application for decrofting may be appropriate. There may also be opportunities for the crofter to develop without decrofting or owning the land, and we have advised on regulatory applications to the Crofting Commission to facilitate renewables development.

In other cases an application may need to be made to the Land Court, either a Section 19A “Scheme for Development”, a Section 5(3) agreement or resumption under the Crofters (Scotland) Act 1993.

The type of application required may depend on a number of factors, including the size of the scheme, whether it affects in-bye crofts or common grazings, the number of interests affected, the level of compensation the applicant is willing to pay, and the specific rights required over the croftland.

Purchase of a crofting estate

Overview

We advised on the rare purchase of an extensive crofting estate in the Western Isles, comprising seven crofting townships with seven crofting common grazings. This involved a major due diligence process requiring the examination of older titles and crofting records – a notoriously difficult process. Our knowledge of crofting law proved essential in advising our client on the risks.

Applications for Crofting Consents for Hydro Scheme on croftland

Overview

We have significant experience in advising crofters on accessing green energy schemes. Recent work on a scheme promoting micro-hydro projects on croftland which involved a number of agreements with crofters for the development to proceed, decrofting of part of an owner-occupied croft, advising on a crofting resumption of common grazings, and an application to the Scottish Land Court under Section 5(3).

Diversifying a croft – wind turbine applications to the Crofting Commission

Overview

We have successfully advised a client in obtaining an apportionment of common grazings from the Crofting Commission for the purpose of erecting a wind turbine. This freed the crofter from having to erect the turbine on his own land, and from having to decroft the turbine site. This is a highly innovative way for crofters to diversify their holdings by utilising the legislative framework open to them.

Crofting community buy out

Overview

We recently completed a crofting community buy-out for the Carloway Community in the Western Isles. Whilst this was not a purchase under the Land Reform (Act) 2003 it was a purchase of an 11,000 acre crofting estate.

Sale of crofting common grazings

Overview

Advising a crofting landlord on the sale of large parts of two crofting common grazings in the north west of Scotland. We advised on all aspects of this sale, including the extensive diligence that is require in the sale of crofting common grazings.

Testimonials

We are recognised as a ‘Noted firm’ in Agriculture & Rural Affairs by Chambers UK Guide to the Legal Profession.

– Chambers UK 2022

Calum MacLeod is described in The Legal 500 2022 as “a crofting law expert.”

– The Legal 500 2022

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CONTACT US

Get in touch

Call us for free on 0330 159 5555 or complete our online form below to submit your enquiry or arrange a call back.

Speak to us today on 0330 159 5555

Get in touch

CONTACT US

Get in touch

Call us for free on 0330 159 5555 or complete our online form below to submit your enquiry or arrange a call back.