The Lands Tribunal for Scotland has statutory power to deal with various types of dispute involving land or property. Although the Tribunal works in much the same way as an ordinary civil court, our aim is to be as accessible and user friendly as possible. This site provides a good deal of detail on all aspects of the work of the Tribunal. Guidance is also available direct from the Tribunal Clerk and his staff.
One question you will need to ask yourself is whether professional representation is necessary. Some types of case are relatively straightforward, and beyond getting initial legal advice it may be possible for you to conduct the actual proceedings without further professional assistance. On the other hand, some cases involve technical areas of law and require careful legal and factual analysis. Examples of technical areas of law are land registration law and compensation for compulsory purchase. Should a case be presented unsuccessfully, there may well be an award of expenses made in favour of an opponent. So it is important to get legal advice in order to check that your case — or defence to a case — is well founded. If you are satisfied that you have a sound case you may be able to take it through yourself. That is because procedure before the Tribunal is regulated by a series of orders telling parties what to do at each stage. In some cases special guidance letters will be sent out to help. You will also find on this site a “Guidance Note for Hearings”. This tells you all about the hearing stage. If any questions arise you can consider the “FAQs” or ask the clerks by phone or email.
In simple terms, court and tribunal procedure is aimed at getting a fair and independent decision on a disputed issue. Procedural rules boil down to the need to give proper written notice of what the real dispute is and to give a proper opportunity for the parties to present their own evidence and arguments and to comment on the opponent’s case.
Parties are usually entitled to have the evidence and submissions tested by a hearing in open court. However, many cases can be dealt with by written submissions which will generally be quicker and less costly if parties are able to agree that a hearing is not needed. In other words, although there are some cases which are best presented at a hearing with the assistance of lawyers and expert witnesses, there are others which are capable of being resolved simply on the basis of parties’ written submissions. You should not be reluctant to ask for the advice of Tribunal clerks about this.
As well as general comment and matters such as access to previous decisions of the Tribunal, you will find detailed information on this web site about
- the jurisdictions and powers of the Tribunal;
- the process by which the Tribunal resolves disputes;
- what you need to do if you wish to use the Tribunal.
It is important to keep in mind the question of jurisdiction. Tribunals can only do what Parliament has authorised them to do. The Lands Tribunal for Scotland has statutory power only to deal with certain types of dispute. At the request of parties, it can also act as an arbiter to deal with any type of dispute. However, if there is no such agreement it can only hear cases covered by the statutes mentioned at Specific Statutory Jurisdictions.
In particular you should note that although our jurisdiction is related to land issues, most disputes about rights to land (for example, disputes over ownership or succession) are dealt with by the ordinary courts: the Sheriff Court or the Court of Session. The Scottish Land Court also has jurisdiction to deal with some land cases. This Court is sometimes confused with the Lands Tribunal. They share the same offices. But the work of the Court is quite distinct. The Land Court deals with cases involving agriculture and is mainly concerned in matters involving landlords and tenants.
The Lands Tribunal for Scotland
126 George Street
DX ED 259
Tel: 0131 271 4350
Fax: 0131 271 4399
Email: LTS_Mailbox [at] scotcourtstribunals [dot] gov [dot] uk
The Lands Tribunal in pictures
George House (1); the entrance at No. 126 (2); the reception area (3); the courtroom, from the Bench (4); the courtroom, towards the Bench (5):