Call on Crofting Commission to reverse decrofting decision

4 March 2013

Crofting Lawyer, Brian Inkster, today published his opinion on ‘When (if ever) is an owner-occupied croft vacant?’ This provides further clarification, if that was required, on the opinion published by him last week on owner-occupier crofters’ right to apply for a decrofting direction. It is Brian’s opinion that “an owner-occupied croft is quite simply always ‘vacant’ for the purposes of decrofting”.

Brian Inkster stated that “the more I look at this the more I am convinced that the Crofting Commission have got it wrong. They have a Board Meeting on 6 March and the opportunity then to reverse their position and agree to continue processing decrofting applications from owner-occupier crofters in the way that they were doing before their sudden announcement last week.”

MSP Tavish Scott has urged the Scottish Government to either introduce emergency legislation or find another way forward to clarify the situation. However, Brian Inkster believes that there is no need for emergency legislation as the existing legislation in respect of decrofting by owner-occupier crofters does what it was meant to and the Crofting Commission are simply misinterpreting it.

Brian Inkster went on to say that “the consequences of this misunderstanding on the part of the Crofting Commission are huge. Not only are they currently preventing owner-occupier crofters and connected third parties from building houses or carrying out other developments but they are in effect saying that decrofting directions already granted by them may be invalid. If such directions are invalid then, if title deeds have been granted in reliance of those directions, those title deeds will be null and void. This is because applications to divide an owner-occupied croft will not have been made prior to transfer (such applications not being necessary if the land was decrofted but necessary if the land was not decrofted). Banks who have granted mortgages in reliance of such decrofting directions will also be exposed.”

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