What is the crofting register?
The Crofting Register is a new register maintained by the Registers of Scotland. It was created by the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 and went live on 30 November 2012. The period from 30 November 2012 to 30 November 2013 was a period of voluntary registration after which registration will be compulsory. The register will identify the extent of croft land, both individual crofts and common grazings (whose boundaries will be plotted, often for the very first time).
The one year transitional period comes to an end on 30 November after which compulsory registration will commence. Certain trigger events will effect a registration in the Crofting Register and these events are set out in Sections 4 and 5 of the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 for crofts, and Sections 24 and 25 for common grazings.
Types of Events that require Registration
Examples of the type of events that require registration include:
- assignation of the croft;
- re-letting of a croft;
- bequest of a croft;
- the resumption of croftland;
- the purchase and sale of an owner occupied croft;
- the decrofting of any part of a croft;
These are just by way of example and there are many more triggers. Some of the events trigger a first registration whereas others will only trigger a subsequent update of an already registered interest. Curiously a first registration will not be triggered by the purchase by a crofting tenant of their croft from the crofting landlord but the subsequent sale will. Furthermore, a change in landlord of the croft will trigger a subsequent registration of an already registered crofting interest, but it will not trigger a first registration.
Whilst the Crofting Register is to be maintained by the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland an application to the Crofting Register is in fact to be submitted to the Crofting Commission in Inverness. They have to check and verify any submitted application and fee before sending it on to the Registers of Scotland.
Appeals against first registration
When a croft is created the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland will notify the Crofting Commission once the croft is first entered on the Register and the Crofting Commission are to send a certificate of registration to other interested parties (for example, the crofting landlord). The applicant can receive their certificate by email or post. Parties who were notified of a registration should check it carefully as there is a right of appeal to the Scottish Land Court if the entry is incorrect. If the appeal is successful the Keeper may be ordered to amend the entry on the register. An appeal may be made no later than nine months after first registration is completed.
Consequences of not registering
It will be an offence to fail to register the transfer of ownership of a registered croft or land on which a registered croft is located. Where there is transfer of ownership registration needs to be applied for within 1 year of the transfer otherwise the person is liable on summary conviction to a fine. Regulatory matters such as assignation, re-letting, resumption or decrofting will be invalid if the trigger event is not registered within the appropriate time limit and in the case of unregistered crofts, the Land Court and Crofting Commission need not consider applications where their approval is needed unless an application for registration is also submitted.
Tie in with other registers
The Crofting Register is completely distinct from land ownership and accordingly does not necessarily tie in with the other registers maintained by the Registers of Scotland. Whilst the certificate will show the ownership of the croft, the main interest shown will be the party who holds the crofting interest. In addition to showing the boundaries of croftland against the OS map, the Crofting Register will also contain information on the tenant or owner-occupier crofter on the land as well as the landlord and/or the landowner of the registered land. It will also show if any part of the croft has been taken out of crofting tenure within the last 20 years. However, whilst individual common grazings will be plotted and shown in their own certificate, the certificate for individual crofts will not show details of the common grazing share pertaining to the croft.
The Crofting Commission will continue to maintain their own "Register of Crofts" which is not plan based but will still continue to be an important source of reference for information on crofts and croftland. Accordingly, when dealing with croftland, the existing Register of Crofts should still be checked in all cases.