Souvenir Plots & Scottish Law
Buying a souvenir plot of Scottish land has long been popular, either as a gift for someone else or as a personal choice by those who feel close to Scotland and want a parcel of land as their own personal stake.
Sir Geoffrey Howe told the UK parliament that the sale of Souvenir plots was unquestionably a good thing. “… it gladdens the hearts of our continental cousins and enables them to obtain a splendidly medieval looking deed of title, which, no doubt, they display at some appropriate place in their homes.”
What are “Souvenir Plots”?
The practice of selling souvenir plots has been around for many years and has been recognized in Scottish law since 1979.
Section 22 of the Land Registration etc. (Scotland) Act 2012 defines a souvenir plot as a piece of land which, being of inconsiderable size or no practical utility, and is unlikely to be wanted in isolation except for the sake of mere ownership, or for sentimental reasons, or commemorative purposes.
Under Scottish law, the purchaser of a souvenir plot may obtain a beneficial right to the land in question, but not a ‘real right’ (in other words, you cannot register the plot in the Land Register of Scotland). As a consumer, your rights are recorded in the deed of sale provided with your plot. In practice, most people are satisfied with this degree of protection when the payment is so small. And of course, the buyer of a little piece of the Highlands gets to call themselves “Laird”, which simply means “landowner”.
Can I legally use the title “Laird”, “Lord” or “Lady”?
In Scotland, and indeed in every civilised country, anyone can, subject to requirements of good faith, take any title they like, including “Laird”, “Lord” or “Lady”.
There is no need in Scots common law for a deed poll, statutory declaration, or the like. To quote from a recent article by the Registers of Scotland, the Scottish land registry, “ownership of the plot carries with it the right to use the title of Laird, Lord or Lady”.
Will I become a noble?
The descriptive title of “Laird” is simply a traditional title applied to Scottish landowners and to clan chiefs. You cannot render yourself a peer simply by changing your title to Lord and you will not acquire a right, say, to sit in the House of Lords. You will not become noble.