Oct 11 2016
Scottish Tenant Farmers Association
11th October 2016
STFA plea to Scottish Government to halt court battle with tenant farmers
The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association has lent its support to today’s press statement issued by Hendersons Surveyors on behalf of the eight tenants affected by the Salvesen Riddell debacle and the subsequent Remedial order.
The STFA is bitterly disappointed that these tenants are being forced to take the Scottish Government to court in an attempt to gain some recompense for the loss of their tenancies as a consequence of bad law passed by the Scottish Executive in 2003. Time is now running out for the remaining eight tenants and their families who have been in limbo since the UK Supreme Court ruled in early 2013 that they must leave their tenanted farms. They now find themselves in Court on 1st November, the next two families will be losing their farms at the end of November and the rest face eviction next May and November.
Commenting on the dire situation STFA Director Angus McCall said; “The last four and a half years have been a misery for these tenant farmers since Lord Gill condemned the law that gave them security of tenure ten years previously as incompetent and contravening the property rights of landlords. The tenants now feel they have been hung out to dry by the government and its lawyers.
“None of the assurances given to them by ministers or parliament when the Remedial Order was passed in 2014 has been met. The mediation process which was supposed to take place never got off the ground, government has refused to enter into negotiation with the tenants regarding any form of compensation and now they find themselves faced with a lengthy, expensive and stressful legal battle with the government, an outcome that the RACCE committee precisely warned against.
“There is no doubt, that if the mediation process had taken place as originally planned and in the spirit intended, some of these tenants would not now be facing eviction and the others would have come to a mutually agreeable end of tenancy settlement instead of four years of uncertainty and emotional turmoil. This sorry saga has exemplified the harsh and uncaring side of government where common decency and a sense of fair play is being sacrificed on the altar of political expediency.
It is not too late for the government to enter into a dialogue with the tenants and prevent a lengthy and expensive court battle. STFA would reiterate the plea made a year ago for the rulers of this country to accept moral responsibility for the damage done though the actions of a previous government to these families and move without further delay to find a way towards an equitable settlement rather than forcing them into a long drawn out, expensive and life sapping legal battle.”
For further comment contact:
Angus McCall 07767 756840
Eddie Henderson 01577 862566
Henderson’s press release below:
TENANT FARMERS BEING FORCED TO FIGHT FOR THEIR RIGHTS!
The effects of the Salvesen / Riddell case have been far reaching and now resulting in Eight Tenant Farmers and their families finding themselves in Court against the Scottish Government despite all of the assurances to the contrary. The Remedial Order 2014 process promised that the tenant farmers adversely affected by this new legislation would be looked at on a case by case basis and due consideration would be given to the requirement for compensation payments being made for them now finding themselves losing their livelihood and in some cases, their homes.
The highly publicised Salvesen V Riddell case following the Supreme Court judgement required the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 2003 Remedial Order 2014 to correct the unlawful outcomes resulting from the defect identified and it was acknowledged by the Government’s Agricultural Minister at that time, that the Order would have a negative impact on many Tenant farmers.
The Government were advised by the Rural Affairs Committee that they should make every effort to ensure that the affected tenants did not suffer further by having to face lengthy and very costly court proceedings in seeking compensation for the impact the Remedial Order would have on their secure tenancies.
Unfortunately, having paid lip service to the advice, the Scottish Government has made no effort to lessen the stress and financial burden and these eight farmers and their families now find themselves in court as of the 1st November 2016.
Despite the many assurances from the Scottish Government, these eight families now find themselves having to fight for what should have rightfully been addressed by the Government. One farmer has already been put out of his farm in January of this year, two more families will find themselves in the same position as of the end of November with the remainder facing eviction in May and November of next year.
One of the families due to end their tenancy at the end of next month lives on the Isle of Arran. The farm is run by two young brothers – the very type of young farmer the Government continues to stipulate is needed in Scottish agriculture. The brothers have worked all of their life on this farm on Arran, have heavily committed to environmental schemes which may now be in jeopardy and have also created a diversification business which will prove very difficult to relocate. All of the work they have carried out both on the farm and their diversification business will count for nothing when leaving their farm at the end of November. Without any form of compensation from the Government, they will be left with nothing and no means of continuing either with another farm or with their diversified business. They are young men who have worked hard believing that they would be there for the rest of their working lives, only to find that due to the failings of the original Act and subsequent Remedial Order, this is no longer the case.
The latest failing in the promises made by the Government has been their inability to procure a Mediator – something which was originally put in place, but was obviously so high on their agenda in resolving issues with the plight of these tenants, that they failed to renew the contract which ran out in June of this year.
As acting agent for the eight tenants going to court, Mr Henderson said, “it is despicable that the Tenants have been treated in this way and forced to suffer the stress of an unknown future and the financial burden of court action for mistakes made by previous Governments and legislation, with nothing but broken promises as to how they would be considered and compensated. To hide behind the legal department and use this as an excuse to refuse meeting with the affected Tenants to seek resolution out of Court is contrary to what was originally promised and will inevitably be at a further unnecessary cost to the Tax payer” he added “the fact that the Government have failed to procure the promised Mediator at such a critical time for the Tenants due to leave their farms next month, only highlights the lack of importance the Government places on this sorry mess as well as their total lack of understanding on the effect their broken promises have had and continue to have on these families” .
Tel: 01577 862566