Delay proposed in land registering requirement

PEOPLE or organisations with a ‘controlling interest’ in Scotland’s land are to be potentially given an extra year to submit their ‘interest’ details (including ownership), according to a request to be considered by the Scottish Parliament.

Says a proposed amendment to the relevant legislation – the Land Reform (Scotland) Act of 2016 – the aim is to “extend the transitional period in respect of the offence provisions, by 12 months from April 1 2023 to April 1 2024”.

Registers of Scotland (here) maintains the landholding register, but it’s the Scottish Government (here) proposing the extension in submitting details.

The register is designed to provide transparency, as to who owns what land in Scotland (guidance on whether one requires to register can be found, here).

By way of an explanation for the delay, a government spokesperson said: “The Register of Persons Holding a Controlled Interest in Land (RCI) was introduced on April 1 2022, with unanimous cross-party support. Key stakeholders, including religious bodies, were involved in developing these regulations.

“The register has been live for ten months and bodies within the scope of RCI can and should continue to register.

“However, being mindful of challenges faced by religious and Third sector organisations – including the impact of Brexit, the pandemic, and the ongoing cost crisis – we propose to extend the transitional period by 12 months, easing the burden on those in scope of the RCI by giving them more time to prepare their submissions before offence provisions take effect.

“Officials have written to key stakeholders to make them aware of our intention to introduce legislation to provide this extension.

“The remit of the RCI has not changed and those in scope must continue to register; however, in recognition of ongoing pressures on religious bodies, charities and other third sector organisations, these provisions simply afford more time to register before it is an offence not to do so.

“Subject to Parliament’s approval, offence provisions will take effect from April 1 2024, and all those in scope of the RCI are still expected to comply with the requirement to register.

“The Scottish Government and Registers of Scotland will work together to deliver an engagement plan to support stakeholders through the process. We would encourage everyone who is eligible, to engage with the process as early as possible, and give themselves plenty of time to register before the April 1 2024 deadline.”

It is a criminal offence, punishable by a potential fine of up to £5,000, to fail to provide the required information to the RCI, or to provide false or misleading information. It is also a criminal offence to fail to comply with various other requirements set out in the RCI regulations.

It’s not known when the proposed amendment will be debated and voted on, by the Scottish Parliament.

Update, March 17 2023: Scottish Parliament approves, as noted here.

Picture credit: Place Design Scotland

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