Our rural disputes team is part of Shepherd and Wedderburn’s wider rural property and business practice, and our specialists work together on all potentially contentious matters. Our aim is to resolve disputes with the minimum of fuss, without involving the court, and we are experienced in all alternative methods of dispute resolution.

Where it is necessary to litigate, we have extensive experience in the Court of Session, the Scottish Land Court, the Lands Tribunal for Scotland, and the sheriff courts throughout Scotland.

Our expertise encompasses the following areas:

The Estate and Farm

We have experience of farming partnership disputes, grazing licence disputes, actions of division and sale, farming succession disputes, rent disputes and rent determination, as well as removal of tenants and unlawful occupiers including animals.  We have advised extensively on rights of way affecting land, the right to roam and servitudes and wayleave disputes.

We have unique experience of agricultural law matters with Hamish Lean being recognised as one of Scotland’s leading experts on agricultural law and has particular experience of subsidy appeals and agricultural tenancy disputes. 

We also regularly deal with boundary disputes and give advice on title conditions.

The Farm Shop

Diversification means that land owners and tenants are now more than ever involved in non core agricultural activities.  We have experience of matters that could affect the Farm Shop including licensing, food safety and health and safety, as well as employment and contractual and supplier disputes.

Estate residential properties

For those land owners with residential properties or for tenants occupying such properties we have experience of lease disputes, termination of leases and recovery of possession as well as debt recovery and advising on property damage.

Development land and planning

Working with our property and planning teams we have experience of disputes relating to missives, discharge and variation of title conditions, ransom strips and encroachment, planning applications and appeals, waste management and judicial review.

Neighbouring properties 

Our practice includes advising on boundary disputes and encroachment between neighbouring properties, high hedges disputes, nuisance, title rectification and access disputes. 

Crofting

Crofting is a complex area of law where specialist legal advice is essential. We advise on a wide varierty of crofting matters, including options for removing land from crofting tenure, succession to crofting tenancies, rectification of the Crofting Register and common grazing apportionment.

Water

Rivers and lochs are an integral part of our rural landscape. We have experience of disputes involving riparian rights, environmental issues and water pollution, fishing and sporting right disputes and fishing timeshares.

Renewables

Our firm is known for its extensive renewables practice. We have experience of wind turbine development disputes, rectification of wind farm leases, disputed compensation claims, planning applications and appeals and hydro scheme disputes.

Experience

Messrs C&E Ingram v Messrs James M Watt
In an application to the Land Court, we acted for C&E Ingram to successfully establish that a secure tenancy in favour of a partnership as originally constituted, and a subsequent limited duration tenancy created by operation of law, had come to an end on the death of two partners. This involved careful analysis of whether the original tenancy had been in favour of the “house” and the effect of subsequent partnership changes on the tenancy.
J&S Wight Limited v Joan McGowan and others
We successfully represented the owners of a Lanarkshire farm in a case in which the Land Court found that no secure tenancy existed in favour of the applicants. The court praised the high level of skill and specialist knowledge of the legal representatives - including Hamish Lean, Head of Rural Property and Business - as the case coincided with the introduction of amendments to the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 2003.
Elizabeth A M D Lewis v Shonagh Hunter
We acted for Shonagh Hunter, a tenant whose secure agricultural tenancy had been terminated by her landlord on four separate grounds. All grounds were rejected in favour of our client by the Land Court, which commented: “The stakes for [Shonagh Hunter] in this litigation could scarcely have been higher, and that did, in our opinion, place an added burden of responsibility on the shoulders of her solicitor”.
Firm of Malcolm JD Morrison v the Scottish Ministers
We established in the Land Court that the Scottish Ministers’ interpretation of the Rural Payments (Appeals) (Scotland) Regulations 2015 was incorrect. Acting for Malcolm JD Morrison, appellants against a decision to penalise them for an alleged breach, we successfully argued that our client had complied with a necessary movement notification requirement under the Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme.
Trustees of Hilda Caroline Pilkington Trust v Alexander Simpson Limited
We represented Alexander Simpson Limited, an agricultural tenant contesting proposed improvements to the farm. The applicant’s attack at debate against our pleadings was unsuccessful, and the case resolved itself out of court in a manner satisfactory to our client. This was the first reported case brought before the Land Court involving the operation of Section 14A of the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 1991.
Public rights of responsible access
We regularly act for private landowners regarding the extent to which their land may be excluded from the scope of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. Recent examples include a case concerning the public using a path close to our client’s bedroom window, impacting her privacy and enjoyment of her property, and another in which our client was served with a notice requiring the removal of signs prohibiting access being taken over a private driveway.
Obtaining vacant possession
We acted for the owner of a large rural estate in legal proceedings to terminate various residential and agricultural lets to allow our client to conclude missives for the sale of the estate. The different legal regimes for recovering residential and agricultural property made this complex and actions were brought in the First-Tier Tribunal and the Court of Session. Our wide-ranging experience allowed us to effectively manage a range of issues and litigate in different forums simultaneously to realise our client’s commercial objectives.
William Wyness v Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution
We acted for William Wyness, a rural landowner, in a compensation claim arising from the grant of a necessary wayleave from the Scottish Ministers in favour of Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution plc. Our client seeks compensation on the basis of his land providing a “golden key” to the exportation of electricity from a wind turbine on neighbouring land. He was successful at a legal debate in January 2020 and this case will now go to a full hearing.
Riparian owner
We acted for a riparian owner in a dispute with a hydropower company in which interdict was successfully obtained restricting abstraction of water at certain water flows. The case involved a very complex and highly specialised analysis of the law of riparian rights and we were sought out by the client due to our reputation as go-to firm for complex rural disputes.
A landowner
Acting for a landowner, we successfully concluded the removal of a seasonal grazing tenant and his livestock and liaised with the local authority due to certain animal welfare concerns.
Resumption
We acted for a renewable energy developer in a successful application to the Scottish Land Court for the temporary resumption of land from the common grazings of two different townships to allow the construction of a hydroelectric scheme on an estate in the west of Scotland.
Attachment of livestock
Acting for a large estate, we successfully attached over 1,000 sheep and cattle in satisfaction of a debt owed to it by one of its tenants. Challenges in relation to identifying and inventorying the livestock and responsibility for the welfare of the attached livestock were overcome by our considerable experience in this area and knowledge of not only the Debt Arrangement and Attachment (Scotland) Act 2002 but also animal movement and passport legislation.
A landowner
We acted for a rural landowner in a dispute with a local authority about the installation of a public cycle path partly on our client’s land which involved consideration about the extent of an adopted road and where the verge lay. Proceedings were raised in the Sheriff Court for removal of the cycle-path but were settled in our client’s favour extra-judicially.