Fortunately the law covering the sale of land in Scotland is fairly modern, dating from 1979 and updated in 2012. Whilst the 2012 Act introduces a number of important changes to land and property registration that will have a considerable impact on professionals involved in the buying and selling of land and property it has retained the facility for “souvenir plots” to continue to be sold without registerability
There have been a few articles in the media recently suggesting that “souvenir plots”, in the Highlands cannot lawfully be sold. This is untrue. Some websites even suggest that ownership of the plot does not carry with it the right to use the title of Laird, Lord or Lady.
Given that some websites have doubted that the Land Registration (Scotland) Act 1979
“removes the normal requirements to register your land … thus permitting the sale to take place under Contract Law”, the legislation has been updated by the 2012 Act; leaving the provisions on “souvenir plots” substantially unchanged.
A souvenir plot is defined in the Land Registration (Scotland) Act 1979 as “a piece of land which, being of inconsiderable size or no practical utility, is unlikely to be wanted in isolation except for the sake of mere ownership or for sentimental reasons or commemorative purposes”.
The Keeper is required to reject an application for registration in the Land Register, if the land to which it relates meets the description of “souvenir plot”. However, the fact that the Keeper is obliged to reject registration does not necessarily mean that “ownership” is not obtained. Whilst a right of ownership in land (in the sense of a right that is enforceable against third parties) can only be obtained by registration in the Land Register or by recording a deed in the Register of Sasines as appropriate, a personal right to the land is entirely valid.
Solicitors who are consulted by a client in relation to the purchase of a potential souvenir plot should bear in mind that in some cases the land in question might not be of “inconsiderable size”; in such cases no prohibition of registration applies.