McMaster and others v Scottish Ministers

Agricultural holdings – Human rights – Right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions – Remedial legislation – Entitlement to compensation. Court of Session: In proceedings in which the petitioners averred that they had all suffered loss as a result of the passing of s 72(10) of the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 2003 and the enactment of remedial legislation to rectify defects in 2003 Act, contending that enactment of the remedial legislation without provision in it for payment of compensation to them, and the Scottish Ministers' subsequent refusal to meet their claims for compensation, violated their rights under Art 1 of the First Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights ('A1P1'), the court held that the only petitioners who could claim victim status and who had a possession which was capable of being interfered with by the remedial legislation were the qualifying general partners (or joint general partners) who had served a notice in terms of s 72(6) of the 2003 Act; it was appropriate to regard the remedial legislation as a control of use of their tenancies rather than a deprivation of property; in principle the state should compensate individuals for loss directly arising from reasonable reliance on defective legislation passed by it, which was then remedied by further legislation which interfered with their A1P1 rights; however the court reserved its judgment on whether or not there had been a violation of the A1P1 rights of the qualifying general partner petitioners until the next stage in the proceedings.

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