Faculty against land court/tribunal merger
A proposed amalgamation of the Scottish Land Court and the Lands Tribunal for Scotland has been rejected by the Faculty of Advocates.
In a submission to ministers, the Faculty said it was concerned that a merger could worsen delays already experienced because of the workload of the two bodies.
“Any additional available resources would be better directed to alleviating such pressures and to improving access to the SLC and LTS by means of greater use of technology,“ the Faculty added.
“We consider that many of the proposed advantages (of amalgamation) could be achieved by the sharing of administrative resources between the Land Court and the Lands Tribunal, which share premises, without any reform of the existing structures.”
A Scottish government consultation on the future of the SLC and LTS has a possible amalgamation as its main proposal.
The Faculty said it was not in favour.
“Both the SLC and LTS operate well at present (subject to resource limitations) and in our view in the clear majority of cases they deal with matters clearly within their own function,” the response stated.
“The resolution of the disputes that come before them requires a different approach…The bodies of expertise which reside within the two bodies are distinct from each other.
“If the two were joined, we do not believe that a unitary set of Court rules would be appropriate for the quite different types of cases involved. In our view it is almost inevitable that different rules/practices would have to be adopted for different subject matter and that would broadly break down to the current split between the Court and the Tribunal, so that the change would be purely formal with little other real advantage.”
On a question of any extra functions which a merged body should have, the Faculty said it would particularly resist the transfer of applications for wind farms or green belt development.
“They are more appropriately dealt with by local planning authorities with a right of appeal to the Scottish Ministers to consider through the DPEA (Planning and Environmental Appeals Division) and its reporters, who have expertise and considerable experience in assessing and balancing the impact on the environment and making judgments on the competing issues,” the Faculty said.