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On the naughty step: The Low Road edition


While there is an update to be made on our old friends Charles Henry & Co (the ‘not solicitors’), it will have to wait, because we have some new and very, very special friends. And excitingly, these friends involve us in both Scots land law and Channel Island based entities, who don’t operate in Scotland, apart from when they do. This is a long one. I won’t blame you for saving it for the weekend. but it is worth it, honest.

Part 1

Highland Titles, for they are our subject, purport to sell people a square foot of land in Scotland, and allege that on that basis, the purchaser is entitled to call themselves a Laird (or a Lady). They first came to my notice as a result of an advert on twitter – by @highland_titles – which also landed in front of a Scots property lawyer, @loveandgarbage.

The result was a wonderful exchange, immortalised here, in which a former President of the Law Society of Scotland and the Regis Professor of Scots law at Glasgow University play a part. (Go and read it, I’ll be waiting).

The point of the exchange being that very small plots of land (‘souvenir plots’) cannot be registered under Scots law. And without registration, there is no ownership of land. @highland_titles promptly blocked every lawyer involved.

I couldn’t resist adding a couple of comments.

And that was me blocked too.


Part 2

As a firm rule in life, ‘don’t annoy Scots property lawyers’ is up there with ‘don’t get into a land war in South East Asia’ and ‘don’t eat the yellow snow’. Even as an English solicitor, I know this. However, it seems Highland Titles haven’t come across that rule, for on a site called ‘Highland Titles Scams’ (but clearly operated by Highland Titles and used to insult their critics) this appeared. [Edit 13/02/205 – at some point during today, this post was deleted. No matter, we have a screenshot.] Again, I’ll be waiting for you to get back (and they moderate out critical comments. I tried.)

The point where the former President of the Law Society of Scotland is called ‘belligerent and ill-informed’ is a special treat.

So, naturally, it didn’t end there. (For example the legal academic @malcolmcombe’s post).

You may have seen Highland titles make frequent reference to the ‘advice of their Scottish lawyer’ (occasionally their ‘real’ Scottish lawyer’). Here it is. Now I am not a Scottish lawyer, but I am a lawyer and I recognise an exercise in saying nothing at all in a way the client wants to hear. This is a very good example of that craft. It floats the possibility of, without committing to, various other possible forms of ownership of land other than ‘real rights’, such as ‘personal ownership’ or ‘beneficial ownership’. What it doesn’t do, which Highland Titles insist it does, is say that people can own land in Scotland other than by registration.

As @loveandgarbage has dealt with in a tour de force of a post on the legal issues:

  • The only form of ownership of land in Scotland is registered land.
  • There is no such thing as a ‘personal right in land’ in Scots law
  • There is no such thing as ‘beneficial ownership’ of land in Scots law
  • (Oh and salmon fishing rights are registrable, and time shares are not property rights at all, in Scotland.)

So, these ‘sales’ of land conducted by Highland Titles are, at the very best, a mere contractual promise. They are categorically not ownership of land, in any way shape or form.

Why is this significant? Well, the fig leaf that this set up hides behind in its title peddling is that:

“Owners of Scottish land have the legitimate right to assume the style of Laird, Lord or Lady, but it is impossible to simply ‘buy a title’.  There are websites that claim to sell Royal titles or titles of nobility, but these are fakes. Highland Titles is a reputable company and we wish to distance ourselves from such claims.

We sell plots of land in Scotland, and our customers are free to adopt the titles of Laird, Lord or Lady of Glencoe if they choose to do so. These are descriptive titles that simply replace the title of Mr, Mrs or Miss that you already use.”

[Screenshot in case of the site being changed here]

So, in order to for Highland Titles to pretend that adopting the title ‘Laird’ has some justification, it has to be tied to land ownership in Scotland. But nobody paying money to Highland Titles actually owns any land in Scotland, not even one square foot. They are not landowners in any way at all (at least not in Scotland).

While on the title thing, we might pause to note the statement of The Court of the Lord Lyon (which apparently deals with Scottish titles. I suppose someone has to), that:

“Ownership of a souvenir plot of land does not bring with it the right to any description such as ‘laird’, ‘lord’ or ‘lady’. ‘Laird’ is not a title but a description applied by those living on and around the estate, many of whom will derive their living from it, to the principal landowner of a long-named area of land. It will, therefore, be seen that it is not a description which is appropriate for the owner of a normal residential property.

“It cannot properly be used to describe a person who owns a small part of a larger piece of land. The term ‘laird’ is not one recognisable by attachment to a personal name and thus there is no official recognition of ‘XY, Laird of Z’.

“The words ‘lord’ and ‘lady’ apply to those on whom a peerage has been confirmed and do not relate to the ownership of land.”

On the Highland Titles site, this is amusingly translated as:

“The Lord Lyon has no official governance of the sale of land or the adoption of the style of Laird by the new owner, though this is a not uncommon misconception. In a recent letter to one of our customers, Lyon clarifies that he is not involved in the matter of Lairdships.”

Highland Titles have fairly extensive form in what one might call creative interpretation. One example would be the assertion on the Highland Titles Scam site that:

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 22.02.04

Well, apart from, as one example, this ASA decision in March 2014 that “We considered that consumers were likely to understand those statements to mean that through the purchase of a souvenir plot of land from Highland Titles they would gain the right to use a title to which they would not otherwise have had the right.” and that “the website was ambiguous and likely to mislead’.

So, to round up this part, Highland Titles’ assertions about their selling land and about their customers becoming ‘landowners’ in Scotland are complete hogwash. What is more, they have been told this on a number of occasions, and are persisting in representations which they know, to put it at the lowest, are very possibly untrue.

In short, they are charging £30 quid to tell you to change your name to Laird X by telling people you want to. Though note:

“The Master Title Deed is a legal document accepted in many jurisdictions, that asserts your right to be known by your new title. You have this right as a Scottish estate owner.”

Oh no you don’t.

Part 3

Why does any of this matter? Well, people have been doing some digging. And a Scots land campaigner called @andywightman has come up with this.

The Scottish land is owned by a company called Highland Titles Ltd. It is registered in the Channel Islands, Alderney, owned by Douglas Wilson and Helen McGregor as Trustees for The Highland Titles Charitable Trust for Scotland, a charity registered in Guernsey. The trustees of the Charitable Trust are Douglas Wilson and Helen McGregor. The address for contact is C/O Mr P Bevis. Peter Bevis was a trustee of the Charitable Trust and also a director of Highland Titles Ltd until some point in 2014. (We’ll come back to Mr Bevis in a moment). But as it is a Channel Islands charity, there is no obligation to publish accounts or any further details. Nor are any accounts published of the Alderney registered company. Given that the five year plan of Highland Titles Ltd was to sell 100,000 plots, that is a minimum of just under £3 million (without UK tax) over 5 years. And at a square foot a time, there are many more millions to come, as long as the supply of wannabe Lairds holds out. This might help explain that ‘non-committal but what the client wants to hear’ solicitors’ letter.

The Highland Titles Trust site is nicely ambiguous about its activities

“The Highland Titles Charitable Trust for Scotland, a Guernsey registered charity, owns Highland Titles Ltd, which works in Scotland to conserve and protect nature. Others may just hold out a begging bowl for the taxpayer to fill with government funding or lottery grants. We make our own money and commit to:

promote and care for the Scottish natural heritage
help people enjoy it responsibly
enable greater understanding and awareness of it
promote its sustainable use, now and for the future”

As well it might be ambiguous, as any charity registered outside Scotland but occupying land or carrying out any activities in any office, shop or similar premises in Scotland would have to register with the Scottish Charity Register, which would mean publishing accounts and so on. And Highland Titles Charitable Trust really doesn’t want to do that.

Indeed the Highlands Titles Charitable Trust for Scotland has had a brush with the Office of the SCR, with a first direction to the Trust to stop misrepresentation later reversed on submissions from the Trust.

Those submission make interesting reading. In particular the submission that:

“The Trust is based in the Channel Islands, with two current Trustees (Dr Bevis recently retired as a trustee) who both live in Alderney.” [my emphasis]

That is the trustees including Helen McGregor.

That was in May 2014. But in December 2014, a company was registered with Companies House as a Scottish company. Highland Titles Ltd. The directors are Peter Bevis and, um Helen McGregor. Both the Company’s registered address and the given address of both directors is a farm called called Tulloch, in Inverness-shire. And here, ‘Peter and Helen’ welcome you to Tulloch for all your bell ringing experience needs. They spend ‘part of the year’ in Alderney, but moved to Tulloch in 2002. [pdf of the webpage here].

There seems to be a little tension between these two accounts of where certain people live.

By the way, Tulloch is owned by Quexus Ltd., a company registered at Trident Chambers, PO Box 146, Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

And there we are, so far. It is amazing where someone telling fantasy stories about how one can own land in Scotland will lead you. For that, and also for the following video, onto the naughty step go Highland Titles.

[Update. Given Highland Titles’ assertion, noted above, that “There are websites that claim to sell Royal titles or titles of nobility, but these are fakes. Highland Titles is a reputable company and we wish to distance ourselves from such claims”, it would be a little embarrassing if the predecessor version of the present company (same ownership) and indeed Peter Bevis had claimed to be selling noble titles. That would, after all, make them mealy mouthed hypocrites. Ooops. And Ooops. (and yes, screenshots taken, in case).]


Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.


  1. Baron Andrew Kerensky

    This whole issue is a time bomb waiting to go off. The Scottish Government should have seen this coming. In an age of political transparency and social media they have no where to hide on this one.

    Just to clarify today I purchased 18 square feet of souvenir land in Ireland from a souvenir land vendor and paid an additional £18 charge to have my souvenir land legally registered with the Northern Ireland Land registry.

    Scotland’s current position is a disgrace and has to be addressed. Also I feel that those who sell souvenir land in Scotland are being disingenuous to unsuspecting purchasers of souvenir land. All of this I feel is coming to a head and there has to be an accounting.

    • Giles Peaker

      It has nothing to do with the Scottish Government or transparency. It is about people pretending that ownership of souvenir plots can be sold, which some might think you do too.

      And by the way, your souvenir plot in Northern Ireland is not legally registered as a title to land in the NI Land Registry. If you were told that, then someone is misleading you.

    • Giles Peaker

      Yes, I presumed it was them. The NI Land Registry does not register title for souvenir plots.

      There may be some form of note on the overall title where there is an area of registered land recorded as being subject to a souvenir scheme. I am finding out exactly what form that note takes, but I can assure you that it is not registered title and Emerald Heritage are being rather naughty in suggesting the plot is ‘officially registered’. A note on the registered title of the overall land is not ‘registration’.

  2. Baron Andrew Kerensky

    The wording in the Irish land act section 4 clause 24 seems to be different from the Scottish 2012 land act. If I read it correctly it does permit registration of souvenir land???

    • Giles Peaker

      I have no idea which act you are referring to, but any Irish land act has no relevance to Northern Ireland, which is where Emerald Heritage operate.

  3. Baron Andrew Kerensky

    Its the Northern Ireland Land Act, 1992 No.881. In part 4 of said Act section 24 says thus-

    General provisions as to registration

    Souvenir land
    24. The following section shall be inserted at the beginning of Part V of the 1970 Act:

    “Souvenir land.

    50A.—(1) Land Registry Rules may make provision-

    (a)for enabling the Registrar, in such circumstances and subject to such conditions as may be prescribed, to declare any area of land to be subject to a souvenir land scheme if the Registrar is satisfied that the land comprised in that area consists wholly or mainly of land—

    (i)which has been, or is proposed to be, disposed of (by way of sale or otherwise) in souvenir plots; or

    (ii)of which part has been, and the remainder is proposed to be, so disposed of;

    (b)with respect to the cancellation of declarations and the extension or reduction of the area to which any declaration relates;

    (c)for authorising or requiring the Registrar not to accept applications under this Act relating to souvenir land or notices, cautions or other documents relating to that land;

    (d)for excepting souvenir land from any requirement under this Act for compulsory registration;

    (e)for securing that transactions relating to souvenir land which is registered take effect as if the land were not registered land; and

    (f)generally for modifying or excluding in relation to souvenir land the operation of any provision in this Act or any Land Registry Rules.

    (2) In this section

    “declaration” means a declaration by the Registrar, made in pursuance of Land Registry Rules made under subsection (1)(a), that an area of land is subject to a souvenir land scheme;

    “souvenir land” means land situated within an area in respect of which a declaration is for the time being in force;

    “souvenir plot” means any piece of land which, being of inconsiderable size and little or no practical utility, is unlikely to be wanted in isolation except for the sake of pure ownership or for sentimental reasons or commemorative purposes.”.

    • Giles Peaker

      Dear Baron, first off, that is inserting an amendment to the Land Registration (Northern Ireland) Act 1970

      If you actually read that section, properly, it makes provision for the NI Land Reg to refuse to accept registration of souvenir plots – Look at 50A(1)(c) & (d).

      Can’t any of you Laird-floggers actually read! I’ve already had this out with Bevis on @loveandgarbage blog.

  4. Baron Andrew Kerensky

    I’m certainly no legal buff Giles Peaker but from a quick skim read of the above info I think its saying they will register souvenir land in Northern Ireland???

    • Giles Peaker

      Already answered. it says the opposite. It must have been a very quick and incompetent skim.

      What it says is that the Land Reg may record that land making up a registered title may be recorded as being subject to a ‘souvenir scheme’. That is purely and simply applicable to the overall registered land. Not any ‘souvenir plots’.

  5. Baron Andrew Kerensky

    Dear Giles Peaker, thank you for the clarification. You are a gentleman…possible an Esquire or heading that way….just one point I am not a Lairdship peddler, i’m just a bloke who was given a souvenir land plot as a gift from my wife last year and i’ve been trying to figure out what on earth this is all about. Thank you once again for your time and consideration.

    • Giles Peaker

      Ah, I see, just a passing ‘Campaigner for Souvenir Land Reform in Scotland’. Evidently a collector of certificates. Sadly, Baron, I’m afraid you don’t own any land in Scotland – or at least not the souvenir plots – and I’m pretty certain your ‘land’ in Norther Ireland does not have registered title.

      I have to say, I don’t really see that law reform in this area is exactly a pressing need.

  6. Irish Eyes

    Giles, you are quite wrong. Purchasers of souvenir plots from Emerald Heritage can gain full, legal ownership of their plot by registering their purchase with the Irish land registry. Emerald Heritage is owned and run by a lawyer who knows a lot more about Irish law than you appear to.

    From the Emerald Heritage FAQs:
    Emerald Heritage’s legal team have worked extremely hard to ensure that we have complied with every legal detail. Your pack arrives with the official legal deed and documentation of ownership, stating that you are the legal owner of the specific plot. We have a wonderful professional relationship with the Registry, and together we have developed a unique system, whereby plots purchased via our website can be officially registered. Emerald Heritage cannot thank the registry enough for all their support!

    When you are not sure, it is often better to say nothing. If you need to know the details, I expect Emerald Heritage can put you right.

    Scotland might do well to learn from how it is done in N. Ireland.

    • Giles Peaker

      Oh I know what their FAQs say. I would be delighted if they wanted to actually explain it. Though the lawyer who is apparently their CEO is a former commercial lawyer operating in the Channel Islands, so I’m fairly sure his knowledge of Northern Ireland’s conveyancing rules (not Irish law) wasn’t obtained in practice.

      Specifically, I’d been keen for them to explain what they mean by ‘officially registered’ given that s.50A(1)(c) to (f) all concern actually excluding and preventing souvenir plots from being registered with their own title.

      What is more, there is no obligation to ‘register’ a plot, as the Emerald Heritage FAQs make clear – again, this is simply incompatible with whatever is going on being registered title.

      ‘Official legal deed and certificate of ownership’ potentially means nothing at all, of course. Highland Titles claim to provide something similar, and as we have seen, that is meaningless.

      Your helpful contribution is noted. It might have been more helpful to get the right legal jurisdiction.

  7. Baron Andrew Kerensky

    I’d be curious too please? As for Scotland I think HT are going to circumvent the RoS issue by creating their own private register.

    • Giles Peaker

      I have asked both the NI Land Reg and Emerald Heritage. At least the Land Reg acknowledged my email.

      And HT won’t circumvent the issue that way. It won’t make a blind bit of difference.

  8. Baron Andrew Kerensky

    I think I will have to email NI Land Reg too and ask for clarification. There appears to be a lot of misinformation and I really feel I would like to get to the bottom of this.

    • Giles Peaker

      I am confident that whatever is going on, it is not registration of title. If it was, it could not be optional.

  9. Baron Andrew Kerensky

    Finally today I received a letter from the Northern Ireland Land Registry to state they have received my letter querying how the registration of Souvenir land is recorded in their registrer. Its clear to me now that there is a lot of misinformation and lack of understanding on this subject. The letter simply acknowledges that they have received my letter and that a detailed response will follow. I wrote a letter to the land minister of Scotland also requesting they look at the situation with souvenir ‘sales’ in Scotland and they also stated that they are now investigating the matter. Whats clear to me is that what I have observed over the last few months is a war of words via twitter/facebook and other blogs and forums with the usual non-forward results & scorings which I why I decided I would write to the relevant politicians and see if there is a way of resolving this once and for all…….yes I know this seems very unlikely but clearly there are ethical issues here that really should be addressed.

    I should make it clear Giles Peaker I am not engaging in an argument with you, i’m not interested in this war of words. I am just interested in getting to the bottom of this matter one way or the other. It needs a resolution regardless of what those who in power decide. What is clear is that those who can resolve this have been extremely apathetic and have taken a back seat position. Not acceptable.

    • Giles Peaker


      It doesn’t require a resolution. It is resolved. The legal position in Scotland is absolutely clear and it is also clear that some, maybe all, of the laird floggers have been misrepresenting it. The ‘war of words’ as you call it, was Scots lawyers pointing this out.

      You don’t like the legal position, that is a different matter. But you can’t pretend it is resolved.

  10. Baron Andrew Kerensky

    I received a letter the other day from the Scottish Government Legal department, it clearly states that no legal registration is applicable with souvenir land in Scotland. The land being considered ‘to wee’ to register….at best ownership of the land ‘sold’ is considered ‘informal’ as far as the Scottish Government are concerned. Its all a bit pants as far as I am concerned. How on earth such practices are permitted in the 21st century in the United Kingdom are well beyond my comprehension. Is it a scam? Is it illegal? It appears this is all a complete grey area that you legal bodies have absolutely no control over. The sale of souvenir land has gone one on for over 30 years and clearly no one can state with absolute 100% fact legally that the sales are ‘illegal’. If you care to prove me wrong i’d be delighted to see you or any legal body take any of the sellers of souvenir land to court to disapprove this. What I suspect is that i may very well be waiting an ice age for you or any other body to proof this to be the case.

    • Giles Peaker

      Are you completely deluded? It is not a scam or a grey area. it is the law. And it is perfectly clear.

      The ‘sale’ of souvenir plots is not illegal – but it is not a sale of land and does not give ownership of land in Scotland. It gives a best a purely personal, contractual obligation, which could never actually be enforced. This is perfectly straightforward.

      Now do stop trying to muddy the waters and getting all indignant about something which is only an issue for the Laird floggers.

    • Scott Wortley

      I co-author a textbook on Scottish land law, and a book on conveyancing in Scotland, and have followed this issue with some interest.

      The legal position is very clear. A sale of land involves a transfer of ownership from seller to buyer. In Scotland a transfer of ownership of land requires registration of the conveyance. this has been the case since 1617 and the Registration Act which set up the Register of Sasines. That registration is necessary to transfer ownership has been asserted by the courts regularly – twice by the highest court: in Young V Leith, and in Burnett’s Trustee v Grainger. The proposition was reasserted when the feudal system was abolished in 2004. And reaffirmed in the most recent reform of land registration. That general proposition is so well established that when we teach students it is covered in introductory lectures.

      The rigmarole around souvenir plots needs to be viewed against that basic framework. Where there is a souvenir plot the Land Registration (Scotland) Act 2012, following the approach of the 1979 Act, provides that registration cannot take place. And if registration cannot take place there is no transfer of ownership. And consequently no sale of land takes place. This is not difficult. It is not a grey area. it is perfectly clear and is an application of the statutory rules.

  11. Baron Andrew Kerensky

    ‘Are you completely deluded?’ No i’m not deluded but i have two teenage daughters shouting and vying for my attention Giles Peaker Esq at this current moment, clearly you have a point to make against peddlers of souvenir land but alas you have no authority or power to intervene against such practices so one does wonder what is in fact your point if any??? You can’t change the system clearly, you are powerless, your points are therefore pointless. Sorry its just an honest appraisal of the situation old chap.

  12. Baron Andrew Kerensky

    Sorry, no offence is meant but clearly regardless of your points you can’t change the current dilemma….and there is no muddying of the water here. It is what it is. Land is sold, land is not registered, certificates are issued to state the land is sold. X sells to Y and Z states that neither X or Y’s transation is recognised. As far as i am concerned X can go and hang itself in a barn. Its totally bang out of order.

  13. Baron Andrew Kerensky

    Feel free to delete my comments but be assured I am also very capable of of using the ‘print screen’ button before you do….I learn fast.

    • Giles Peaker

      Unlike some, I don’t do that… Clearly you have been associating with people who delete comments, fake newspaper pages and change pages at the drop of a hat, like Highland Titles.

      But there is no dilemma. No lack of clarity. The position is perfectly clear.

      Land is not sold. Full stop. At best what is sold is an unenforceable contractual obligation to give over land.

      Anyone saying that they are selling souvenir land in Scotland is engaging in, at the very least, a lack of clarity. At worst, misrepresentation. And I note that some sites have had to change their wording significantly after ASA intervention.

      This is hardly a unique situation, There are all sorts of contractual agreement that the law won’t or can’t enforce. They are not illegal, just pointless.

      The fact is that this is not a big deal, except to the people purporting to sell souvenir plots, the laird floggers. And I find it hard to get upset about their plight.

  14. Baron Andrew Kerensky

    Hmmmm as I suspected the last comment pretty much seals it. Sorry folks to you many folks who have followed this thread with interest we are now learning that Giles Peaker whilst a gentleman of legal persuasion is powerless to stop the current sales of souvenir land or profer any change to it. He like every other person can offer an ‘opinion’ , valid? Perhaps but certainly not enforceable by law. Now i go back to my other conversation with my wife about prince George having a baby sister….

    • Giles Peaker

      There are no sales of souvenir land in Scotland. Anyone who thinks they have bought land is sadly mistaken. And – the crucial point – they have no enforceable rights to the land whatsoever.

      Why is this so hard to understand?

      Of course people can sell an unenforceable promise. It isn’t illegal. One might consider it unethical, immoral and sharp practice, but it isn’t illegal. Though as mentioned, the ASA, and the Law Society of Scotland have intervened over some of the, shall we say, misleading wording on some of the sites.

      What on earth you think I could do to ‘stop it’ is beyond me, though it does go to confirm that you have no clue about the law at all.

  15. Martin George

    Goodness, this is painful to read. To ‘Baron Andrew Kerensky’, there’s a difference in law between buying say, a loaf of bread, and a piece of land. Bread isn’t expected to outlive you, so the law doesn’t require anything special in the selling of it. Land is different, because it will certainly outlive you. In order for a sale of land to have any meaning, therefore, your ownership has to be binding against the world, and binding into the future, rather than simply a personal contract between you and someone else. And that is precisely what these souvenir plots are – they are (at best) personal rights, and not property rights. You have not, therefore, become the legal owner of any land in Scotland.

  16. Baron Andrew Kerensky

    Giles is that your real name? I work next door to Middlesbrough Crown Court….I come in contact with QC’s and JP’s in my own personal professional. I must confess I take this banter fairly light heartedly, I spend more on lunch than has been spent on this souvenir land nonsense…I do rather wonder do you have a valid point???

    • Giles Peaker

      As a simple google search (or rolling the links in my bio) would tell you, this is my real name. As I mentioned, clearly you have been hanging around the wrong sort. As neither baron, nor laird are your real titles, I won’t use them.

      It is nice that you have met lawyers. I have no idea what that is meant to mean apart from offering us an insight into your circle of acquaintance.

      My point is perfectly valid. Oddly enough, it is unaffected by you having had lunch with a JP.

      You have so far offered only hot air, which is fitting, given your assumed titles.

  17. Martin George

    I’m not sure what your point is. And no: Giles is called Giles, and I am called Martin. Please do pay attention.

  18. Baron Andrew Kerensky

    Hahaha so this is just complete and utter bollocks well done gentlemen. I salute, honour and thank you. For posterity, for all folks who stumble across this site please be assured that what you are reading on this site is nothing more than posturing…..don’t believe believe me? Well why on earth can you buy souvenir land from Argos, Amazon, Groupon or any other site? Because its actually not illegal! Can these Johnny come latelys change the current situation hahahha not one jot. Life is what it is.

    Prints screen for posterity.

    Have a good evening gentlemen :-)

    • Giles Peaker


      You are not buying land.

      You are buying a bit of paper.

      There is nothing illegal about someone selling you a bit of paper.

      You don’t own any land.

      Is that clear enough?

  19. Baron Andrew Kerensky

    Strange i’m now staring at a document that states my souvenir land is registered by the land registry. How do I upload the document?

    • Giles Peaker

      Received, thank you. And all is explained. The stamp on that document is not registration of title. You will note it is from the ‘Registry of Deeds’. On that, see here. The key bit of info from that page.

      “There has been a system of registration of documents relating to unregistered land (land which is not registered in Land Registry) since 1708. Under this system a written summary of the relevant document is lodged in the Registry of Deeds (RoD) with the original document. This summary, known as a “Memorial”, is retained in the Registry and the original document is returned to the person who lodged it.
      The Registry does not guarantee that any document registered is valid or has any legal effect, it merely records the document’s existence and its priority date.”

      So, it is specifically not ‘registered title’ and is just a note – a memorial – recording the existence of the document.

      You are paying £18 (oddly the Registry fee is £15) to have a record made of a document at the Registry of Deeds that has no legal effect. Emerald Heritage claim that “plots purchased via our website can be officially registered” is actually inaccurate. The plot isn’t registered, all that is registered (and not on the Land Registry) is the existence of a document.

  20. Baron Andrew Kerensky

    Thank you Giles for this, I followed your link with interest and noted the following statement from the official web site you directed me to-

    ‘The compulsory first registration programme which was extended to all of Northern Ireland in 2003 will result in titles to land recorded in the Registry of Deeds migrating to the Land Register in the years ahead. This will ultimately lead to the phasing out of the Registry of Deeds.’

    • Giles Peaker

      Quite so – for registrable title to land. But the document you have is not title to land and, as a souvenir plot, is not registrable. So it won’t be migrated to the Land Register and, when the register of Deeds is eventually phased out, will simply be discarded.

    • Giles Peaker

      The Registry of Deeds only exists because not all land in Northern Ireland is yet registered with the Land Registry – because it has not been sold or changed hands since 2003. Title to those lands is by deed. But the Emerald heritage land is registered on the Land Registry, I believe. So what is going on is a complete and legally meaningless fudge. The existence of the document you sent me is recorded on the Registry of Deeds. This has precisely no legal effect whatsoever. (and the document isn’t actually a deed either).

  21. Sylvestre Bresson

    Emerald Heritage is owned and operated by a lawyer, yet you suggest that they are mis-describing the legal process that they offer. You should be ashamed of yourself. If you do not know about Irish law then do not guess. Emerald Heritage know what they are doing and it involves the legal sale of land and some wonderful conservation.

    • Giles Peaker

      My dear chap. I have had it confirmed by the NI Land Registry. They are not registering ownership of the souvenir plot on the Land Registry. After 2003, it has been compulsory for all sales of land for value to be registered, but souvenir plots are excluded. So, legal title remains with the holder of land registry title – in this case Emerald Heritage.

      Emerald Heritage might be purport to be selling land, but they are not giving title to it. Also, having seen the ‘deed’, it is inadequate to operate as a legal transfer of land in any event.

      And as the lawyer who owns Emerald Heritage is a former commercial lawyer working in the Channel islands, I doubt very much his experience gave him any insight into Northern Ireland’s land law.

  22. Sylvestre Bresson

    Emerald Heritage say that you know nothing about Irish law but are only a young and fairly inexperience English lawyer. You do mainly legal aid work which is poorly paid and only for second class lawyers. Their lawyer was partner in a very prestigious firm and he now operates a big business specializing in selling small plots of land. I think he knows what he is talking about but perhaps you are trying to just make trouble by telling it wrongly.

    • Giles Peaker

      Really? Well Emerald Heritage are welcome to come and tell me that in person, so that I could explain libel to them as well.

      I notice that they didn’t explain to you how I was wrong. Possibly because I’m not wrong.

      When you have more than sad attempts to insult me, you are welcome back to explain just where I am mistaken. Until then, I say bof.

  23. Sylvestre Bresson

    You say bof, because you are a bad English lawyer who sorts out problems with social housing. John Langlois OBE was an MP and the senior partner in the largest law firm in Britain. So when he says he has registered my land and you say bof, I say you are just wrong and silly. So he runs a big conservation company and you can only say. bof. Goodbye and enjoy your troublemaking.

    • Giles Peaker

      Still not telling me where I am wrong. Also Langlois was not an MP, rather a member of the States of Guernsey. And he was not a senior partner with ‘the largest law firm in Britain’, it was apparently ‘the largest law firm in the Channel Islands’, which is a bit like saying the largest law firm in a small market town, as the Channel Islands have a total population of 168,000.

      Your title to your plot was not registered with the Northern Ireland Land Registry. The existence of a document purporting to give ownership was recorded in the Registry of Deeds. As the Registry says, this does not say anything at all about its legal effect.

      If after calling me silly you start making remarks about my mother and elderberries, I shall be calling my lawyers.

  24. Sylvestre Bresson

    John Langlois was a member of the parliament in the country where he lives so he is a Member of Parliament as he says. I have checked my map and this is part of the British Isles and so again he is right and you are not right. It is offensive to correct someone when you are guessing and getting it wrong. I have not met your mother and have nothing to say about her.

    • Giles Peaker

      ‘MP’ is reserved to members of the United Kingdom parliament. The largest law firm in the Channel Islands is not the largest law firm in Britain.

      I am not guessing. As I said, I have had confirmation from the Northern Ireland Land Registry. Now, instead of name calling and making up things (MP, largest law firm in Britain, etc), why not come back when you have something to add that is actually to the point.

      • R

        FWIW: The “parliament” in Guernsey is the States; and a member of the States is referred to as a Deputy, so MP doesn’t quite work. And of course, from the Guernsey point of view, their island is not part of the British Isles; the rest of the British Isles is a mere ducal estate of their sovereign Duke, the Queen.

      • Harald

        The “parliament” in Guernsey is the States of Guernsey; and a member of the States is referred to as a Members of the States, or simply States Members. This term is a synonym of “Member of Parliament”. Guernsey, like the other channel islands, the isle of Man and indeed Ireland are all parts of the British Isles. The British Isles comprise probably 6,000 islands in all. Guernsey is not part of the United Kingdom, or of course the EU.
        John Langlois was senior partner of Carey Langlois, which merged with Olsens in 2003 forming a firm that is large by any standards, certainly dwarfing Anthony Gold in numbers of lawyers, turnover and expertise. Why would John Langlois have any less expertise on the subject of NI law than Giles Peaker? Clearly John Langlois has a reputation that is beyond reproach. Do I detect a little lawyer envy?

        • Giles Peaker

          No, simply accuracy. It is not ‘the largest law firm in Britain’. Or even in ‘Britain’. And why would being a senior partner in an ‘offshore law firm advising financial, institutional, corporate & private clients on BVI, Cayman Islands, Guernsey & Jersey law’ give any expertise in NI land law whatsoever? Because it is that which is being asserted.

          As it turns out, the position has indeed been confirmed by the NI Land Registry – title to the plot is not ‘registered’, despite Emerald Heritage’s assertion. You rather skip over that bit in your eagerness to get to the ad homs.

    • Giles Peaker

      It is certainly giving me a lot of entertainment. M Bresson made my evening.

  25. Baron Andrew Kerensky

    A very good evening to you Giles Peaker Esq, well I have finally received an official letter from the Northern Ireland Land Registry and I must say it makes for extremely interesting reading. As I constantly get this legal jargon wrong (as you like to point out) I will PDF said letter for your perusal and see if you can confirm what I believe it to be saying. However if it is saying what I believe it is saying it will be a major ‘about turn’ for Souvenir Landowners and for sellers certainly outside of the Scottish jurisdiction.

    • Giles Peaker

      Thanks, I have it. In the letter I received from the NI Land Registrar, it said

      We do not have subordinate legislation yet for souvenir land albeit we do now have Ministerial approval for same. Steps will be taken soon to draft and consult with stakeholders.

      Your version of the letter reads:

      The Registry currently does not have subordinate legislation for registering souvenir plots. We do have ministerial approval and legislation will be drafted in due course.

      I can only presume that this is pursuant to s.50A of the 1970 Act as amended:

      (1)Land Registry Rules may make provision—

      (a)for enabling the Registrar, in such circumstances and subject to such conditions as may be prescribed, to declare any area of land to be subject to a souvenir land scheme if the Registrar is satisfied that the land comprised in that area consists wholly or mainly of land—

      (i)which has been, or is proposed to be, disposed of (by way of sale or otherwise) in souvenir plots; or

      (ii)of which part has been, and the remainder is proposed to be, so disposed of;

      (b)with respect to the cancellation of declarations and the extension or reduction of the area to which any declaration relates;

      (c)for authorising or requiring the Registrar not to accept applications under this Act relating to souvenir land or notices, cautions or other documents relating to that land;

      (d)for excepting souvenir land from any requirement under this Act for compulsory registration;

      (e)for securing that transactions relating to souvenir land which is registered take effect as if the land were not registered land; and

      (f)generally for modifying or excluding in relation to souvenir land the operation of any provision in this Act or any Land Registry Rules.

      So, any secondary legislation would be to enable the Registrar not to accept registration of souvenir land (d), and effectively de-registering any souvenir plots that are already registered (e). The other element is allowing a registered area of land to be declared subject to a souvenir plot scheme (a).

      This is all that could be done by secondary legislation in that regard. So I suspect that the putative change will actually just confirm the non-registration (and exclusion from registration) of souvenir plots.

  26. Baron Andrew Kerensky

    I suppose that we will have to wait and see what will actually happen. Will souvenir land actually be permitted official land registration in Northern Ireland or as you say continue to be as is the Scottish situation be excluded. I will follow this with interest but clearly at the current time Emerald Heritage should really be clearer that what they state as Land Registration is somewhat disingenuous to the actual facts.

  27. Kenneth Monahan


    Following this thread with interest. Wondering, is it really the case that one can buy land in Scotland/Ireland at such cheap rates? Also, not sure what printscreening is used for in this context? Is it a requirement of the process, as Baron says? Can you buy as cheap in England too? Considering somewhere more local. Do you have to already be a baron etc to partake?

  28. Baron Andrew Kerensky

    Lol :-) are you taking the biscuit Kenneth Monahan sir? You need to read the entire tome.

  29. Kenneth Monahan

    Not at all, not at all. Just considering sticking the only bony index finger in another potentially lucrative pie, old boy.

  30. Carolyn Angwin-Thomson

    Gentlemen, this is wonderful, thank you. I may not have been paying attention, but was there any mention along the way of the difference between Greek and Roman law? My Scots lawyer friends would say one can never fully unpick the details of the other, but I wouldn’t know because I have only worked with the implications of both in a quite different profession. I paid for the coordinates of a plot of land at Duror so that I could plant a tree there in memory of my late mother, which she would have loved, and now I am considering buying a bench there in memory of my father. I consider I have already had a great return on my investment in having had an informative guided tour of the reserve in a gator, planted a tree on a lovely hillside, seen some jolly little beehives painted by local schoolchildren, and met some wonderful people from around the world. Plus I love seeing the wildlife on the webcams.Do I want a ladyship title? Only of the Screaming Lord Sutch variety! [edited by NL for advertising ;-) ]

  31. Dr Bernard Juby

    I technically own a square foot of Scottish soil given to me when I bought a bottle of Laphroid whisky.and which I can visit any time I am up there!

    • Dr Bernard Juby

      Sorry for the typo, still can’t get used to my French keyboard, for “Laphroid” read “Laphroig”.

    • Giles Peaker

      Ah, but I’m afraid you don’t own it, technically or otherwise. I hope you enjoyed the Laphroaig, though.

  32. dachasgunbrogan

    Laphroig are one of the honourables in this whole fiasco. They actually state that you are buying a lease, and that it has no basis of existence after your demise. It cannot be transferred, thus not inherited or bequeathed

    • Bernard Juby

      But if they proclaim that “title” to the world then they are taking on airs and graces that couldmislead other people.

      • Giles Peaker

        Anyone can call themselves by those titles. At risk of being laughed at.

  33. dachasgunbrogan

    To the lady who bought the spot in Duror. Congratulations, you are one of the few people who got what you want from the charlatans which own that site. Did you buy it as part (not necessarily with an intent to gain) of the get a lordship or ladyship of Glencoe in the Glencoe Woods scam? In which case you may well have been defrauded. Of course, that won’t be actionable by you, because you are not disappointed and have suffered no loss in your own estimation. And nothing wrong with that.

    However, it is not in Glencoe. It is not known as Glencoe Woods other than by the nefariously active Dr. P Bevis. I know if people who had connections to Glencoe, who wanted to scatter their relative’s ashes there, bought very large, very expensive plots, only to be seriously distressed when they found the land they ‘bought’ was not in Glencoe. That is clear mis-selling, in my view.

  34. dachasgunbrogan

    Lastly, if I may try to precis the foregoing in plain language:

    You buy. Yes, you buy the land. Perfectly legal, and all hunky dory until you want do something with it which Bevis doesn’t like.

    You own. Yes you own, as per above. All depending upon a gentleman’s agreement. And believe me, Bevis is no gentleman.

    But, there is no recognition if this transaction in law, except in the fact that a transaction of a type has occurred, but not one which satisfies the requirements of Scottish law to be the beneficiary of the protections afforded by that law. Then you find you have no title, and no enforceable right. Bevis can even stop you getting to your wee plot of paradise, if he so chooses. And there is sod all you can do about it.

    Something which Giles has skirted around, just a teeny wee bit, is that (as he says), it is not illegal. But not being illegal is not the same as being legal. And that sort of nicety with words is the sort of language Bevis is exceptionally adept at, as, in fact, Giles pointed out very early in the article.

    It strikes me that anybody wanting to flit about t’internet, or anywhere else for that matter, styling themselves Baron on the basis of a square foot of bog in the Highlands or Irelands is welcome to their confusion. In essence, that is the only thing they truly bought, and they’re welcome to it.

  35. Cédric from Belgium


    I’m from Belgium. Some friends have received a gift pack : a (souvenir) plot from Highland Titles and all the stuff. I though it was a good idea for one I’ve to make.But I didn’t understand exactly what it was. So I was looking for some extra information and found this thread. I read all. Sometimes it was pop-corn time but realling interesting since it’s absolutely not my domain of expertise (how it could be ? I’m in tax field in Belgium). I think I understood how the Higland’s Titles’ plots work. It’s only a split between the legal ownership of the land that need to be officially registred and a personal right to benefit of it’s (limited) use through a contract between two parties (with undetermined end). I saw some other companies in the same souvenir plot business use a leasehold system. I think I saw more or less equivalent possibilities in our laws.

    But I have still some issue with the nothern irish emeral heritage. In their FAQ or on the buying page, they said it’s registred. I got the point in this thread with the difference between having the plot registred on my own name at the « land registration » office and having a random deed with no legal value (or few) registred in a « registry of deed office » (it’s two different office and also two different things in Belgium). But in the terms & condition on the website, I read « As you are purchasing land in the same way you would purchase any property, once it is sold to you it is no longer our property. Once you purchase your land from Emerald Heritage, the land property is legally owned and transferred to you and registered with the Land Registry – Registry of Deeds Northern Ireland. We no longer own the property. Therefore, we CANNOT OFFER A REFUND because we cannot resell your property; and it is not our property to resell. However, you can sell your land to someone else and request a re-issue of documents. Once the land is legally owned by you, we cannot change this ». Moreover in the FAQ, they said it was freehold. So what I understand is it’s a true legit ownership since they seem to say they have no more right on the plot after selling it… So I’m confuse. Is there something I misunderstood ?

    Lot of foreigners and tourists bought those kind of gift (Highlands Titles owns several .fr websites), but if it’s difficult for some of you to understand, just imagine us…

    I take this more like a funny gift but I like to know exactly what I get and what are the legal implications.


    (Sorry for my english).

    • Giles Peaker

      Hi Cedric

      In Scots law, you have no right to the land at all (Scots law doesn’t recognise a ‘personal’ right to land). And your ‘contract’ doesn’t really get you anywhere, if, for example, your plot is sold again by the landowner.

      The NI one is tricky. I’m afraid that the ownership of the land is not registered – the deed means nothing. But unlike Scotland ownership of land doesn’t *entirely* rely on registration. So it is probably true that you would own the plot. Though heaven knows how you would enforce that. My beef with the Northern Ireland set up is that they are, shall we say, being rather creative in what they say about registration.

  36. Gareth Morgan

    Now I’m going to have to resist the temptation to ‘buy’ something and get involved in this saga.

  37. King Phillip

    On a recent trip to Buckingham Palace I picked up a pebble from the grounds and left a pound coin in its place.

    I think you’ll find this now makes me the rightful King of England.

    Giles, feel free to add ‘By Royal Appointment’ to the site’s masthead.



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