GUIDANCE FOR THIRD PARTIES
3.1 Who is a third party?
1. Under Part 3 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, a third party may be:
- a member of the crofting community defined by a CCB for the purposes of section 71(1)(a) of the Act;
- any person who has a known interest in the land, tenant of tenanted land and interests or sporting rights; or
- a person who has a right of pre-emption, redemption or reversion over the registered land.
3.2 Identifying your rights
2. Individuals with legal rights in or over land should be aware of their rights. You should consider the effects of a CCB's application for consent to exercise its crofting community right to buy. If details of your rights are contained on the Sasine or Land Registers held by the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland (RoS), they should appear on a CCB's application form. If the registration is approved, these details will then appear in the Register of Crofting Community Rights to Buy. If these details are incorrect, you should inform the CCB and Community Assets Branch. Although there is no legislative requirement for you to do so, this may further help to ensure you have your say in the right to buy process.
3.3 Effect of the CROFTING Community Right To Buy on your rights
3. The effects the crofting community right to buy will have on pre-emption, redemption and reversion rights is set out in section 84 of the Act. Generally, any legal right you have in the land or interests will be suspended from the time Ministers approve the CCB's application until the transfer of the land is completed. If the right to buy does not proceed, any legal right you have in the land which is the subject of its application will be reinstated as before.
Member of the crofting community
4. If you are a member of the crofting community, defined by a CCB (for the purposes of section 71(1)(a) of the Act), you will be entitled to vote in the CCB's ballot prior to it submitting its application to Ministers (section 75 of the Act). If you meet the criteria set out in section 71(1)(a) of the Act, you should ensure that you have a right to vote in the CCB's ballot. If you discover that the CCB's ballot in which you had a right to vote has taken place without your knowledge, you should inform the CCB and Community Assets Branch.
Third party purchaser
5. The 2003 Act provides third parties with certain other rights. For example, if Ministers have consented to a CCB's application to proceed with its right to buy, and a valuer has been appointed, section 88(7)(a) of the Act requires the valuer to take account of the known existence of a person who may be willing to buy the land at a higher price than others might be expected to pay. You should therefore make yourself known to the valuer, whose details can be obtained from Community Assets Branch, to ensure that your views are taken into account.
6. As a third party, you have a right to appeal against Ministers' decision to consent to the CCB's application (under section 91(2) of the Act). Section 91(5) of the Act provides that appeals must be lodged within 28 days of the date on which Ministers decided to consent to the CCB's application. The sheriff may order that the Ministers' decision shall be adhered to or reversed. The sheriff's decision is final.
3.5 Providing information to Ministers
7. If you wish to provide information to Ministers which is pertinent to a CCB's application to exercise its crofting community right to buy, you should send it to Community Assets Branch (contact details at Annex B). You will have an opportunity to provide comments on the CCB's application soon after Ministers receive it (section 73(11) of the Act). If the information you wish to submit is of a sensitive nature, for example, it concerns any alleged breach of the provisions of the Act, it can be submitted in confidence and will be treated as such by the Branch (though it may still be made publicly available if requested under Freedom of Information legislation).
8. Any person (other than a CCB) who has suffered loss or incurred expense arising from the operation of Part 3 of the Act, such as costs or losses resulting from compliance with the Act following an application to purchase land or from the CCB withdrawing from the right to buy process, may claim compensation. This compensation is payable by the CCB, and in certain circumstances by Ministers.
9. The circumstances in which compensation is payable are set out in section 89 of the Act. The procedures for recovering costs are set out in the Crofting Community Right to Buy (Compensation) (Scotland) Order 2004 (see Annex B).
10. Claims for compensation should be made within 90 days of the final settlement date (section 89 of the Act), or such later date as may be agreed, or the date when the CCB withdrew its confirmation of its intention to proceed with the purchase of the land, or the date on which the CCB's application was treated as being withdrawn, whichever date is earlier.
11. Annex B provides useful contacts to help you through the right to buy process. Community Assets Branch cannot provide legal advice and must remain objective at all times: its main role is to provide advice, on a case-by-case basis, to Ministers at various stages of the right to buy process. Community Assets Branch can help you with any process-related questions you have.