What is a “controlling interest” in land? This question is fundamental to the issues raised in the current Scottish Government consultation which proposes the introduction of a register of controlling interests in land in compliance with section 39 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016.

Very much part of the wider land reform agenda and aimed at improving the transparency of land ownership in Scotland, the register is intended to give the public better access to information about who identity of the individuals who have actual control of the legal entities which own land in Scotland.

What is a controlling interest?

It’s important to note that the new register is separate from the Persons with Significant Control Register introduced by the UK government and which obliges all UK companies to keep a register of people with significant control. The current consultation indicates that the register under the 2016 Act will be more about decision-making power than financial control i.e. the focus of the proposed new register is on identifying the parties who control the use of land.

What’s in the consultation?

In summary, the consultation looks at how parties with a controlling interest should be defined and what information should be collated about those parties in the public register. It also looks at how much of that information should be made publicly available; who should be responsible for reporting controlling interests and the potential sanctions for non-compliance.

Anyone with an interest in land and property in Scotland (rural or urban) should take some time to review the proposals set out in the consultation and consider responding. The deadline for submitting responses is 5pm on 5 December 2016.