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The Register of Persons Holding a Controlled Interest in Land – Explained

November 8, 2021

The Land Register of Scotland is responsible for keeping and maintaining publicly available registers affecting land in Scotland.  There are twenty different registers altogether and the latest of these, which will be effective as of April 2022, is The Register of Persons Holding a Controlled Interest in Land (or RCI).

The RCI is required as part of the continuing implementation of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 and is brought into force by the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 (Register of Persons Holding a Controlled Interest in Land) (Scotland) Regulations 2021.  It is an obligatory register and failure to comply with the reporting and other obligations under these regulations will be a criminal offence, liable to a fine of up to £5000.

Purpose:
The Scottish Government advises that it is keen to ensure that land in Scotland is sustainably owned, used and developed in the interest of landowners, communities and wider society.  It believes that this transparency should allow people to engage with any person with a controlling interest who makes decisions in relation to land that might have an impact on sustainable development.

The RCI shows who has a controlling interest in the land and property of Scotland.  This can often be a different person to the entity registered as the owner (or tenant in the case of leases for 20 years or more).  The purpose of the RCI is to look behind the registered owners or tenants to who actually controls these entities where appropriate.  This increases public transparency in relation to individuals who have control over decision-making in relation to land.  The Regulations are intended to ensure there will be no categories of landowner or tenant where control of decisions is obscured.  Concerns were raised during consultation that the Regulations may result in unintentional breaches by persons with no intention to conceal control of land.

Practical requirements:
Owners or tenants of land or property may have a responsibility to supply information to the RCI where there is someone with significant influence or control and that information is not publicly available elsewhere (eg Companies House).

Where the controlling interest in the owner or tenant is not currently transparent they will have to provide the following to the register:-

  • The title number of the land or property or, where such land or property is not registered, the property or land address and a description of the property;
  • The details of the “recorded person” (being the person who owns the land or property).  This will include their name, address, registered number, if applicable, and also the capacity in which they own or lease the land (eg as a trustee);
  • The details of the “associate” (being those who have significant influence or control in the owner or tenant).  This will include their name, address and contact details.

Entries in RCI will be in relation to land owned or a lease which can be registered in the Land Register (those with a duration of 20 years or more).  The Keeper of the Registers of Scotland is responsible for maintaining the RCI as a legal register and registration will be open to owners, applicable tenants or their agents.  The associate must be advised that they are to be included in the RCI and accordingly should provide the necessary information.  Further, the recorded person must advise the Register of any change in the associate or their information.

Who will be affected:
The most likely landowner or tenant to be affected by this will be certain trusts and partnerships, overseas companies and unincorporated bodies.

There is a list of exempt bodies in the Regulations including companies, LLPs, public authorities and charitable incorporated associations.  These are subject to other transparency regimes and therefore the information does not need to be repeated in the RCI.

Timetable:
Whilst the register opens for applications on 1st April 2022, there will be a grace period of 12 months within which there will be no penalty for non-compliance, however, if you feel you would like further information on this now please get in touch with any member of our Rural or Commercial Property Departments.

Nicola Burns

Nicola Burns

Director of Operations

Marketing Team

+44 1382 342217

The opinions expressed in this site are of the author(s) only and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Blackadders LLP.

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