Gender and Land Rights Database

United Kingdom

National and local institutions enforcing land regulations

England and Wales
- Agricultural Land Tribunals (ALTs) settle disputes and other issues between agricultural tenants and landlords arising from tenancy agreements held under the Agricultural Holdings Act of 1986.

ALTs were established under Section 73 of the Agriculture Act of 1947 to hear appeals of decisions given by the Minister or County Agricultural Executive Committees. The Agriculture Act of 1958 made them courts of first instance and the ALTs now play an important role under the 1986 agricultural holdings legislation in settling disputes and other issues arising between agricultural landlords and tenants. The ALTs also have jurisdiction to settle drainage disputes between neighbours.

There are eight ALTs: seven for England and one for Wales. Each of the seven ALTs for England covers a specific geographic area.

The main issues dealt with by ALTs are:
i. applications by close relatives of a deceased or retiring tenant to succeed to the tenancy;
ii. applications by landlords for consent to a notice to quit served on the tenant;
iii. applications for a direction to tend ditches or carry out drainage work on neighbouring land;
iv. applications by landlords for a certificate of bad husbandry on the ground that the tenant is not farming in accordance with the rules of good husbandry;
v. applications by tenants for approval to carry out long-term improvements on the holding;
vi. applications for a direction to provide fixed equipment.

ALT’s decisions may be questioned by an appeal to the High Court, but only on a point of law.

New tenancies entered into on or after 1 September 1995 are farm business tenancies, subject to the provisions of the Agricultural Tenancies Act of 1995. There is no recourse to the ALTs under the 1995 Act. Instead, general disputes are resolved by recourse to arbitration and are subject to the provisions of the Arbitration Act of 1950 (29).


- The Scottish Land Court takes care of resolving disputes between landlords and tenants that cannot be resolved amicably –  replacing statutory arbitration – as provided for by the Agricultural Holdings Act of 2003 (20).

- The Rural Arbitration & Valuation Nomination Committee (RAVNC) was set up in 2003 following The Scottish Executive’s decision to dissolve the panel of Arbiters.
RAVNC is a joint initiative between the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in Scotland (RICS), the Scottish Agricultural Arbiters & Valuers Association (SAAVA) and the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland (IAAS). It offers a focal point for those needing arbitration services in Scotland.

RAVNC has a panel of approximately 50 people qualified to mediate and arbitrate on rural matters under the Agricultural Holdings Act of 2003 [Scotland] and the Land Reform Act of 2003 [Scotland] (31).


Northern Ireland
- The Lands Tribunal was set up by the Lands Tribunal and Compensation Act of 1964 [Northern Ireland]. It is technically not a tribunal but rather is a proper court; it is not always presided over by a judge and is not serviced by the Northern Ireland Court Service. People serving on it are barristers or solicitors of seven years’ standing or persons experienced in the valuation of land.

One of the most important functions of the Lands Tribunal is to resolve disputes over the amount of compensation to be paid for the compulsory acquisition of land or for the injury caused to land by, for instance, the making of roads. Another important function is hearing appeals and references concerning the valuation of land for rate relief purposes.

The Tribunal must also deal with renewing business tenancies, consenting for alterations to land, assignments and agreements to surrender and modifying legal obligations which are allegedly impeding the enjoyment of land, such as rights of way.
Parties can agree to ask the Lands Tribunal to sit in private as an arbitrating body to settle disputes concerning the value, use or development of a piece of land (32).


- The Rural Development Division (RDD) in the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) of the Northern Ireland Government implements European Union (EU) and Government rural development policies and programmes with the aim of achieving a sustainable rural community. Through management of EU and Government rural funding programmes, the Division contributes to the Department’s strategic goals of strengthening the social and economic infrastructure of rural areas and improving the performance of farm businesses in the marketplace (25).

Sources: numbers in brackets (*) refer to sources displayed in the Bibliography