Easier access to mediation for farming disputes thanks to new scheme
A new scheme to promote mediation as an alternative to litigation, to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants in the agricultural sector, is launched today.
The scheme is designed to make access to mediation easier and has been developed by the Tenant Farming Commissioner (TFC).
Through the scheme, launched following the TFC’s successful pilot between 2018 and 2020, the Scottish Land Commission will cover one third of the costs of a mediation process.
The pilot demonstrated that mediation can be a valuable tool to resolve disputes, even those where Land Court actions have already been separately lodged. 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.
Mediation uses an impartial third party to help participants agree or find a solution that is acceptable to all parties.
Speaking about the new scheme, Bob McIntosh, Tenant Farming Commissioner, said, “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.
“With professional mediation, negotiations become respectful and constructive and the solutions arrived at invariably involve flexibility and creative thinking on both sides.
“This new scheme will improve access to mediation services which can provide a more satisfactory way to resolve disputes rather than resorting straight to litigation – I hope that it will become the norm, in future.”
Mediation is voluntary, so either party can walk away if at any point during the mediation process if they feel that an outcome cannot be reached.
The scheme has three elements:
• A Tenant Farming Commissioner gateway – to ensure parties are suitable and ready for mediation and to enable access to TFC support and reassurance if required
• An approved panel of mediators – to provide easy access to experienced mediators
• A contribution from the Scottish Land Commission of one third of the total cost of the mediation process (payable to mediators on the panel) up to a maximum of £1000 (+VAT) to provide an incentive for participants to try mediation.
The scheme is open to any relevant party, such as landlord or tenant or agent acting on their behalf, and full information on eligibility and how to apply is on the Scottish Land Commission website.
The scheme forms part of wider work of the Scottish Land Commission to encourage a mediatory approach to resolve land disputes.