Fund aid for farm landlord mediation

Farming tenants and landlords will soon have access to a new scheme which offers mediation as an alternative to expensive litigation when disputes arise on agricultural holdings.

Launched following a successful pilot conducted between 2018 and 2020, the Scottish Land Commission (SLC) will cover one third of the costs of the new mediation process developed by the Tenant Farming Commissioner, Dr Bob McIntosh.The SLC said the pilot demonstrated that mediation could be a valuable tool to resolve disputes, even if Land Court actions had already been lodged – and claimed that the mediations in all the pilot cases achieved better outcomes and resolved issues more quickly than litigation would have - potentially saving many thousands of pounds in costs.

“Despite the many benefits of mediation it is still not seen as the first point of call to resolve disputes outside of the judicial process,” said McIntosh.

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“With professional mediation, negotiations become respectful and constructive and the solutions arrived at invariably involve flexibility and creative thinking on both sides,” he added, expressing a hope that such an approach would become the norm.

The scheme consists of three elements: a TFC gateway to provide early support; an approved panel of mediators to provide easy access to experienced mediators; and financial support from the SLC of one third of the total cost up to a maximum of £1000.

NFU Scotland’s Gemma Cooper welcomed the move stating that mediation had a clear role to play in agricultural tenancies – and the structure would help give confidence to use a previously underutilised option.