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Scottish land registration reform

As Scottish Law Commissioners, Professor Kenneth Reid and Professor George Gretton contributed to sweeping reform of the Scottish land registration system. Their work led to the introduction of a new law of land registration, above all achieved by the Land Registration etc. (Scotland) Act 2012. Reid and Gretton have written extensively on matters of property law and together are the authors of the standard work on conveyancing.

Land Registration

Before the publication of the 18th volume of the Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia in 1993, which included Reid’s contribution on Scottish property law and which was reprinted as a book with an additional chapter by Gretton in 1996, the field was little studied. Reid’s work, based on an exhaustive study of sources over a period of some 600 years, proposed an overarching theoretical structure which would work for property of all types. Using a new taxonomy and a series of high-level principles, Reid showed how it was possible to organise and explain coherently what had often appeared as a jumble of unrelated rules. Reid’s research rediscovered and reformulated the law of property in Scotland.

This rediscovery exposed major shortcomings in the legislation which had introduced registration of title in Scotland. During his time as a Law Commissioner, Reid wrote three consultative Discussion Papers on land registration. Gretton, who succeeded him as a Law Commissioner in 2006, was responsible for the final Report and for draft legislation (2010). A Bill based on the Law Commission’s draft was introduced to Parliament by the Scottish Government in 2011 and was passed the following year as the Land Registration etc (Scotland) Act 2012. The resulting Act is a substantial piece of legislation comprising 124 sections and five schedules.

The passing of the Act marked the culmination of an extensive programme of property law reform carried out by the Scottish Government. The new Act took effect on 8 December 2014.

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