Two brothers have been evicted from a farm after more than 20 years as a result of what they claim was a “legal error” made in 2003.
Tenant farmers believed legislation on agricultural holdings passed by the Scottish Parliament 13 years ago would strengthen their security of tenure but the UK Supreme Court ruled in 2013 it breached the human rights of landlords.
Several tenant farmers are now facing uncertainty after legislation to correct the defect – which prevented landlords from recovering vacant possession of their farms – was passed.
Ian and John Paterson, who have farmed Glenree Farm on the Isle of Arran for more than 20 years, were evicted on Monday.
The pair have had to sell their equipment as they have no farm to go to and are facing an uncertain future.
Angus McCall, director of the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association, said: “It is a very sad day for two young brothers, very enthusiastic farmers who have done an awful lot to build up their business on Arran and they are being made homeless.
“It’s not their fault, it’s the fault of a legal error that was made 13 years ago and it’s very very sad that this has actually come to pass. The fault really lies with the parliament 13 years ago and the current government has had to pick up the pieces.”
Around six tenant farmers are now taking legal action against the Scottish Government seeking compensation. A Court of Session judgement is expected in the next few weeks.
Mr McCall said: “The affected tenants have taken a petition for a judicial review in the Court of Session. That has been heard and we are waiting for a decision.
“Part of that is that they are saying when the Scottish Government brought forward its remedial order they should have provided some kind of compensation package. We will hear the outcome of that in a few weeks.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Having a thriving tenant farming sector as part of the Scottish agricultural industry is key to ensuring that we get the most from our land and the people who farm it.
“As such, we have a range of policies which support and encourage a vibrant tenanted sector. It is not possible for us to comment on or discuss the details of live court actions.
“We remain committed to facilitating and funding mediation between tenant farmers and their landlords, in the interests of supporting the sustainable and productivity of the holdings and to maintain a strong rural economy.
“This can provide a forum for tenants and landlords who wish to engage to discuss and explore resolution of issues between them.”