Mar 22 2017
Scottish Tenant Farmers Association
22nd March 2017
STFA WELCOMES TENANTS’ HIGH COURT SUCCESS
Tenant farmers involved in the long running Salvesen Riddell debacle have scored a partial victory in their legal case against the Scottish government for compensation following the loss of their farms. The Court of Session ruled this week that the Government were liable to compensate the tenants “.. for loss directly arising from reasonable reliance upon defective legislation passed by it, which was then remedied by further legislation which interfered with the individuals’ rights”.
Lord Clark rejected the tenants’ claims based on the value of the tenancy and but accepted that compensation should be paid in respect of specific losses directly sustained by the tenants who had acted in good faith on defective legislation and “for frustration and inconvenience”. Lord Clark also pointed out that both sides had agreed that the case had been brought to establish the principle of whether or not the tenants were entitled to compensation. As a consequence he was not in a position to quantify the scale of the compensation which he noted would have to take several factors into account, such as any capital investment they may have made in the holdings balanced by the fact that they had enjoyed an extended tenure beyond which they would have originally expected.
Commenting on the court ruling STFA director Angus McCall said: “This is an incredibly complex case and it will take some time for the tenants’ legal team to evaluate Lord Clark’s ruling. What has been made clear, however, is that the tenants are due some compensation for the harm caused to them by the flawed legislation instigated by the Liberal/Labour coalition and passed by the Scottish parliament 14 years ago.
The compensation due will obviously be assessed on a case by case basis and should reflect specific losses sustained by the tenants combined with a sum to compensate for the stress and heartache caused since the Remedial Order. Unfortunately Lord Clark makes no mention of the unnecessary suffering caused by the mishandling of the mediation process which never got underway until it was too late. If mediation had been available in the immediate aftermath of the remedial Order, when it should have been, it is highly that, some landlords and tenants would been able to reach agreement, with the government stepping in to assist where agreement was not going to be forthcoming.
In summing up, Lord Clark has reserved opinion on “… whether the application of those principles will or will not give rise to a sum being due to the qualifying general partners. When that decision is reached it will also determine whether or not there has been a violation of the A1P1 rights of the qualifying general partner petitioners. I therefore reserve my judgement on that matter until the next stage in these proceedings”. The time must now be ripe for the Scottish Government and the affected tenants to engage in mediation and reach a mutually agreeable settlement which will take away the need to spend yet more time and money in litigation where the only beneficiaries will be the legal profession.
The Courts have established the extent of the government’s liability towards the tenants, there is no legal impediment to talking to the tenants so, let’s just get on and settle the matter and let the victims of this long running and tragic saga get on with their lives.