The new Register of Controlled Interests in Land (“RCI”) opened on 1 April 2022. We have prepared a summary of the main points to assist those who may need to disclose information understand their obligations. Failure to comply with those obligations can result in fines.
The purpose of RCI
The RCI was established, and is maintained, by the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland and sits alongside the Land Register of Scotland and the older Register of Sasines which contain details of the owners of land in Scotland. The primary public policy aim of the RCI is to improve transparency of land ownership in Scotland by making information of who really makes the decisions and has control of land available to the public as part of The Scottish Government’s much publicised wider land reform programme.
Who needs to disclose information?
Where someone other than the owner or tenant who is listed in the Land Register or Register of Sasines has significant influence or control over the owner’s decisions in relation to land, the owner is required to provide information to the RCI. For the purposes of the RCI, the owner of the land is referred to as a “Recorded Person” and any person or entity other than the owner who exercises significant control or influence over the Recorded Person’s decisions in respect of the land is referred to as an “Associate.” The Recorded Person is obliged to provide information on who the Associate is, certain details of the Associate and when the Associate acquired their interest.
Reporting requirements will only apply in circumstances where the Recorded Person is not the same individual or entity who has ultimate control over decisions relating to the land. In many cases, the owner or tenant who is listed in the Land Register or Sasines Register will also be the person who makes decisions relating to the land. If this is the case, no entry will require to be made to the RCI.
An entry may require to be made to the RCI where title to land is held on behalf of a partnership, overseas entity, or a trust. Entries require to be made to the RCI within 60 days from the date when the Associate’s controlled interest in the land began.
Are there exemptions?
Some entities who are already subject to similar transparency schemes are exempt from making an entry in the RCI. The main exemptions include UK Limited Companies, Limited Liability Partnerships and Registered Charities. At present there is no exemption for entities which require to register beneficial owners and/or managing officers in the Register of Overseas Entities, held by Companies House and in force from 1 August 2022, but this may be amended as Registers of Scotland consider the position.
At present Registers of Scotland are not charging a fee for providing information in the RCI.
Failure to comply with a requirement to make an entry in the RCI on the part of the owner or tenant is a criminal offence which carries a penalty of up to £5,000. However, there is an initial grace period up to 31 March 2023 to give owners the opportunity to make applications to the RCI.
As it is likely that penalties will be applied from April 2023, now is the time for owners, tenants and other individuals involved in the control of land, to consider these rules and submit the required information before the expiry of the initial grace period.
The above is a summary of some key points of the RCI and should not be relied on. Please contact us if you have any queries about whether you are required to submit an application in relation to your land before 31 March 2023.
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