Scotland

Tenant farmers in court over 'flawed' evictions

John and Ian Paterson
Image caption John and Ian Paterson want to be compensated for their eviction from a farm on Arran

A group of tenant farmers are seeking compensation for being evicted from their farms.

Six farmers are pursuing damages, saying their eviction is the result of a "flawed" law enacted by the Scottish Parliament in 2003.

They were all granted secure tenure after an amendment was made to the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act.

But this was overruled by the UK Supreme Court in 2013, who said it breached landlords' human rights.

This has led some landlords to serving eviction notices on the tenants so they can reclaim vacant possession.

All the farmers seeking compensation had previously held their tenancy in a "limited partnership", which can prevent tenants enjoying long-term security.

'Huge impact'

The amendment to the Agricultural Holdings Act was designed to provide this security - but the UK Supreme Court ruled in the test cast Salvesen v Riddell that it was not compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights.

The court said landowners before and after a specific date had been treated differently, which amounted to discrimination.

Two of the tenants facing eviction - brothers John and Ian Paterson - said the Scottish government had initially been "sympathetic" to their situation, but told the BBC the "roller doors had now gone up".

Ian Paterson said the eviction was the result of a "flawed" law and would have a "huge financial impact" on the family.

"We're due to be evicted on 28 November and we've got over 1,400 ewes, 100 cattle. I've got 78 breeding falcons that are all facilitated there," he said.

The brothers' father, Jim Paterson, had taken on the lease of Glenree farm on Arran with a 10-year limited partnership in 1996. In 2003, he passed the lease onto his son, John, who became a secure tenant following the Scottish government's amendment.

Farm sale

Ian Paterson runs a falcon-breeding business on the farm.

John Paterson added: "The flock of ewes we've got on the farm we've worked on for 20 years and put a lot of work into very expensive tups to produce very high quality animals and now I'm getting forced to sell them.

"I've got a farm sale booked for 24 November and I'm going to be selling everything down to my kitchen table because there's nowhere to take it."

The Scottish government said it was committed facilitating and finding mediation between tenant farmers and their landlords, but added ministers were unable to comment on live litigation.