Gender and Land Rights Database

United Kingdom

Rights entrenched in the Constitution

- The Constitution is made up of the set of laws and principles under which the country is governed, but it does not take the form of a single constitutional document. This is why it is often described as an unwritten, de facto constitution.

Nonetheless, the Constitution does exist in the written form of statutes, court judgments and European treaties. Its main sources are:
i. statute law, i.e. laws passed by the Parliament;
ii. common law, i.e. the legal principles and precedents established by judicial decisions. Under the common-law system, when a court decides and reports its decision concerning a particular case, the case becomes part of the body of law and can be used in later cases involving similar matters. This use of precedents is known as stare decisis. As a source of constitutional authority, common law has largely been replaced by statute law, but it remains important in the sphere of civil liberties and in fundamental constitutional principles, such as the Royal Prerogative and parliamentary sovereignty;
iii. an array of conventions, or unwritten understandings and customs, which also surround the rules of constitutional behaviour. Although not supported by law, these are considered to be binding.

- The Royal Prerogative, a feature of the Constitution, gives the Crown special powers, including the power to declare war, to make treaties, to pardon criminals and to dissolve Parliament. Today the role of the monarch in such matters is largely ceremonial, but the Royal Prerogative gives considerable powers to government ministers acting on the monarch’s behalf.

- Parliamentary sovereignty is the most important principle of the Constitution. By this principle, the Parliament can make or unmake any law on any subject whatsoever. No Parliament is bound by the decisions of its predecessors, nor can it bind its successors. There is no higher body that constrains the legal authority of Parliament.

- All laws passed at the European level are considered legally superior to domestic law and are ultimately protected by a higher constitutional court, the European Court of Justice (16).

Women's property and use rights in personal laws

Reform [Married Women and Tortfeasors] Act of 1935, applies to England and Wales:
- Under Section 1, a married woman shall i. be capable of acquiring, holding and disposing of any property; and ii. be capable of rendering herself, and being rendered, liable in respect of any tort, contract, debt or obligation; and iii. be capable of suing and being sued, either in tort or in contract or otherwise; and iv. be subject to the law relating to bankruptcy and to the enforcement of judgments and orders in all respects as if she were in the unmarried state or in the legally established equivalent of that state.

- Section 2 states that property of married women which i. was the separate property of a married woman or held for her separate use in equity; or ii. belongs to her at the time of her marriage; or iii. is acquired by or devolves upon her, shall belong to her in all respects and may be disposed of accordingly.

- Section 4 states that nothing in this Act: i. prevents a husband and wife from acquiring, holding and disposing of any property jointly or as tenants in common, or from rendering themselves, or being rendered, jointly liable in respect of any tort, contract, debt or obligation, and of suing and being sued either in tort or in contract or otherwise, in like manner as if they were not married; ii. hampers the exercise of any joint power given to a husband and wife (13).

 

Matrimonial Causes Act of 1973, amended by 1996 Family Law:
- Section 1 [1] states that “a petition for divorce may be presented to the court by either party to a marriage on the ground that the marriage has broken down irretrievably”.

- Part II deals with financial provisions to spouses and children and division of property.

- Section 24 allows the court, on granting a decree of divorce, nullity or judicial separation, or afterwards, to order that property should be transferred from one spouse to the other or to a child of the family or to another person for the benefit of a child of the family (13).

 
Family Law Act of 1996:
- Under Section 2 [1], the court may i. by making an order, known as a divorce order, dissolve a marriage; or ii. by making an order, known as a separation order, provide for the separation of the parties to a marriage.

- A separation order remains in force while the marriage continues or until cancelled by the court on joint application of the parties, as stated in Section 2 [3].

- Under Section 3, if an application for a divorce order or for a separation order is made to the court by one or both of the parties to a marriage, the court shall make the order applied for if and only if: i. the marriage has broken down irretrievably; ii. the requirements of Section 8 about information meetings are satisfied; iii. the requirements of Section 9 about the parties’ arrangements for the future are satisfied; and iv. the application has not been withdrawn.

- Under Section 5, a marriage is considered to have been broken down irretrievably if and only if i. a statement has been made by one or both of the parties that the maker of the statement believes that the marriage has broken down; ii. the period for reflection and consideration fixed in nine months beginning with the 14th  day has ended; and iii. the application under Section 3 is accompanied by a declaration by the party making the application that having reflected on the breakdown and having considered the requirements as to the parties’ arrangements for the future, the applicant believes that the marriage cannot be saved.

- Section 11 states that children’s welfare should be paramount. The court should decide whether, in light of the arrangements which have been or are proposed to be made for their upbringing and welfare, it should exercise any of its powers under the Children Act of 1989 with respect to any of them.

- Part IV makes provisions about family homes and domestic violence. It sets out rights to occupy matrimonial homes and provides for applications for occupation orders between spouses and co-habitants and for non-molestation orders between people who are connected to each other through their family or personal relationships (13).

 

Children Act of 1989:
- Section 2 [1] states that where a child’s father and mother were married to each other at the time of his birth, they shall each have parental responsibility for the child.

- Section 2 [2] states that where a child’s father and mother were not married to each other at the time of his birth: i. the mother shall have parental responsibility for the child; ii. the father shall not have parental responsibility for the child, unless he acquires it in accordance with the provisions of this Act (13).

 

Civil Partnership Act of 2004:
- It amended the 1996 Family Law Act to enable same-sex couples to obtain legal recognition of their relationship by forming a civil partnership.

- Under Section 1, the Act creates a new legal status of civil partnership, under which certain rights and obligations will flow. Civil partners will be subject to many of the same legal rights and responsibilities as spouses.

- Section 2 states that two people are to be regarded as having registered as civil partners of each other once each of them has signed the civil partnership document i. at the invitation of, and in the presence of, a civil partnership registrar, and ii. in the presence of each other and two witnesses (13).

 

Married Women [Restraint Upon Anticipation] Act of 1952 [Northern Ireland]:
- Article 1 prohibits any restriction upon anticipation or alienation attached to the enjoyment of property by a woman on the part of a man (13).

 

Law Reform [Miscellaneous Provisions] Order of 2005 [Northern Ireland]:
- Section 16 abolished the presumption of advancement in relation to married or engaged couples.

- Section 17 states that “any rule of common law that a husband must maintain his wife is abolished”.

- Section 18 provides that if any question arises, whether during or after a marriage, as to “the right of a party to a marriage to money derived from any allowance made by either party for the expenses of the matrimonial home or for similar purposes, or to any property acquired out of such money, the money or property shall, in the absence of any agreement between them to the contrary, be treated as belonging to each party in equal shares” (13).

 

The Law Reform [Husband and Wife] Act of 1962:
 - Under Section 1, it provides both spouses the same rights of action against the other in courts, as if they were not married (13).

 

Family Law Act of 2006 [Scotland]:
- It includes new rights for cohabitants – both same sex and opposite sex – in cases of separation, reduces the periods of non-cohabitation required to demonstrate the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage in divorce proceedings, abolishes the status of illegitimacy and grants parental responsibilities and rights to all fathers who jointly register their child’s birth from 4 May 2006 (5).

- Section 15 allows the court to postpone granting a decree of divorce where there is a religious impediment to remarriage.
This Section, together with Scottish Statutory Instrument 2006 No. 253, seeks to remedy the difficulty when a religious bill of divorce is refused in Jewish law. The Jewish community worked with the Executive to find a remedy in law. The relevant rules of court were put in place in 2007 (17).

 

Sex Discrimination Act of 1975, amended by the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 Amendment [Regulations] of 2008:
- Section 1 provides that a person discriminates against a woman if i. he treats her less favourably on the ground of sex, ii. he applies to her a requirement or condition which is considerably smaller than the proportion for a man who can comply with it and which he cannot show to be justifiable irrespective of the sex of the person to whom it is applied and which is to her detriment because she cannot comply with it.

- Part II, Section 6 states that it is unlawful to discriminate against women in determining who should be offered that employment, or in the terms she is offered for that employment, or by refusing or deliberately omitting to offer her that employment. Also, it is forbidden to discriminate against women in i. offering access to opportunities for promotion, transfer or training, or to any other benefits, facilities or services, or by refusing or deliberately omitting to afford their access to them, or ii. by dismissing them, or subjecting them to any other detriment.

- In addition, under Section 53, the Act provides for the establishment of the Equal Opportunities Commission which shall, among other things, promote equality of opportunity in the fields of employment and vocational training and keep under review the working of the Act and the Equal Pay Act of 1970 (13).

- The 2008 Amendment added that harassment circumstances include when: i. a third party subjects the woman to harassment in the course of her employment; and ii. the employer has failed to take steps to prevent the third party from doing so (13).

 

Equal Pay Act of 1970 and all its Amendments:
- Under Section 1, a woman is entitled to claim equal pay if: i. the work done by the claimant is the same, or broadly the same, as the other employee; ii. the work done by the claimant is of equal value to that of the other employee; iii. the work done by the claimant is rated by a job evaluation study the same as that of the other employee (13).

 

Equality Act of 2006:
- It establishes the Commission for Equality and Human Rights, which provides support to individuals experiencing discrimination or prejudice on the basis of race, gender, disability, age, religion or sexual orientation.

- It makes it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of religion or belief and on the grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods.

- It introduces a duty on public authorities to promote equality of opportunity between men and women – the Gender Equality Duty – and to prohibit sex discrimination in the exercise of public functions (13).

Inheritance legal mechanisms

Administration of Estates Act of 1925 [as amended], applies to England and Wales:
- If a person dies leaving a surviving spouse or civil partner and children or other close relatives and if the estate is of sufficient value, the surviving spouse or civil partner will receive a specified lump sum, commonly referred to as the statutory legacy.
Since 1993, the statutory legacy has been set at £125 000, where the deceased leaves a spouse or civil partner and children, or £200 000, where the deceased leaves a spouse or civil partner and parents or siblings but no children.

- If there is a spouse or civil partner but no surviving children, half of the remainder will be paid directly to the deceased’s closest relative/s and the spouse or civil partner will take an absolute interest in the other half.

- If an estate is worth less than £125 000 and the deceased leaves a spouse or civil partner and children, the whole estate will go to the spouse or civil partner. There will be no remainder and the children will receive nothing.

- If the deceased’s estate exceeds £125 000, the excess over this figure will be split. Half of the excess will go to the children absolutely and half will be held in trust for them subject to the spouse’s or civil partner’s life interest.

- If the deceased leaves a spouse or civil partner and parents or siblings but no children and if the estate exceeds £200 000, half of the excess is paid directly to the spouse or civil partner and the other half is paid directly to the deceased’s parents, or if they are not alive, to the deceased’s siblings. If the estate is worth less than £200 000, then the parents or siblings receive nothing.

- The Civil Partnership Act of 2004 created a new legal status for same-sex couples, which broadly mirrors the rights and responsibilities acquired through marriage. Under the provisions of the Act, civil partners have all the same legal rights and responsibilities as spouses in intestate succession (18).

- Since the Administration of Estates Act of 1925 came into force, the statutory legacy has been reviewed seven times, either on its own or as part of a wider review of the intestacy law. The power to increase the statutory legacy is now contained in Section 1 of the Family Provision Act of 1966, which amended Section 46 of the Administration of Estates Act of 1925 (18).

 

Inheritance [Provision for Family and Dependants] Act of 1975:
- Provides for empowering a court to make orders to redistribute the estate of a deceased person for provision for the spouse, former spouse, child, child of the family or dependant of that person, against the deceased person’s will.

- Under Section 1, any of the above-listed persons may apply to the court for an order “on the ground that the disposition of the deceased’s estate effected by his will or the law relating to intestacy, or the combination of his will and that law, is not such as to make reasonable financial provision”(13).

 

Agricultural Holdings Act of 1986 [England and Wales]:
- Under Section 39, a close relative of a deceased tenant might apply to the Tribunal for a direction entitling him to a tenancy of the holding within the period of three months beginning with the day after the date of death.

- These provisions only apply where a tenancy was entered into before 12 July 1984 and there have not already been two statutory successions, as stated in Section 34.

- According to Section 35, the following conditions must be satisfied:
i. She or he must be the wife or husband of the deceased tenant, his brother or sister, the child of the deceased or any person who has been treated as a child of a marriage to which the tenant was a party, or, since the Civil Partnership Act of 2004, a partner.
ii. She or he must not be the occupier of a commercial unit of agricultural land.
iii. Her or his principal source of livelihood for at least five of the last seven years must have come from her or his agricultural work on the holding or a holding of which it forms a part (13).

 

Administration of Estates Act of 1955 [Northern Ireland]:
- Although there are differences between the intestacy rules in the two jurisdictions of England and Wales and Northern Ireland, the law and the policy considerations are broadly the same.
One difference is that in Northern Ireland, the surviving spouse or civil partner takes an absolute share of the remaining estate rather than a life interest.

- After a 2007 consultation, the Department of Finance and Personnel of Northern Ireland decided that the levels of the statutory legacy should be increased to £250 000, where the deceased leaves a spouse and children, and £450 000, where the deceased leaves a spouse and parents and siblings but no children. These increases came into effect on 1 January 2008 (18).

 

Succession Act of 1964 [Scotland]:
- A surviving spouse or civil partner is an heir on intestacy if the deceased died without surviving offspring or parents or siblings or the siblings’ offspring, as stated in Section 2 [1] [e].

- Where there are no children of the deceased, the surviving spouse or civil partner may, depending on the amount and nature of the intestate estate, have to share the estate with the deceased’s siblings and/or parents.

- Under Section 8, after debts and other liabilities have been met, a widow, widower or a surviving civil partner has a certain “prior rights of a surviving spouse or civil partner” in the deceased person’s estate. Prior rights are a first claim on the estate, before legal rights.
He or she is entitled to the dwelling house of the deceased in which the surviving spouse or civil partner was resident at the time of the deceased’s death, plus up to the value of £24 000 of any furnishings and furniture of that house. The surviving spouse or civil partner is also entitled to the first £42 000 out of the estate if the deceased left children or descendants of children or to the first £75 000 if the deceased left no children or descendants.
The current amounts are set by the Prior Rights of Surviving Spouse [Scotland] Order 2005, SSI 2005/252 (19).

- A surviving spouse or civil partner and children are also entitled to certain “legal rights” out of the deceased person’s moveable estate, i.e. money, shares, cars, furniture and jewellery.

- The surviving spouse or civil partner is entitled to one-third of the deceased’s moveable estate, if the deceased left children or descendants of children, or to one-half of it if the deceased left no such children or descendants.

- The children are collectively entitled to one-third of the deceased’s moveable estate, if the deceased left a spouse or civil partner, or to one-half of it, if the deceased left no spouse or civil partner. Each child has an equal claim. Where a child would have had a claim had he/she not died before his/her parent, his/her descendants may claim his/her share by the principle known as representation.

- Under the current law, a cohabitant can apply, on the death of the other party to the relationship, for payment of a sum out of the estate. However, this is limited to intestate estates. The court has discretion as to the quantum of any payment (19).

 

- The Agricultural Holdings [Right to Buy Modifications] [Scotland] Regulations of 2003 amended those provisions pertaining to agricultural leases.
The new Sections 16[4a] and [4b] ensure that, notwithstanding any provision in a lease prohibiting assignation, the executor can assign the deceased tenant’s interest in the tenancy to a member of his family or to any other person (20).

 

Family Law Act of 2006 [Scotland]:
- Section 29 applies when the deceased has died intestate leaving a surviving cohabitant. It does not provide any protection for a surviving cohabitant when the deceased has died testate without having made any provision for her in his will.
A surviving cohabitant is not made an heir on intestacy and therefore does not have an automatic right to succeed to any part of the deceased’s intestate estate. Instead, the surviving cohabitant has the right to apply to the court for an award out of the deceased’s intestate estate. The court has to be satisfied that immediately before the deceased’s death, the applicant was cohabiting with the deceased.

- In deciding whether the applicant was a cohabitant for the purpose of the Act, the court is to consider the length of the period they had been living together, the nature of their relationship during that period and the nature and extent of any financial arrangements subsisting between them during that period, according to Section 25 [2].

- Section 29 [2] states that in deciding what award to make, if any, the court has to have regard for the following factors: the size and nature of the deceased’s intestate estate; any non-estate benefit received by the applicant as a result of the death, for example, life insurance or rights under a pension scheme; other rights to or claims on the estate, such as the rights of the deceased’s children as heirs on intestacy; and any other matters the court considers appropriate.

- Section 29 [4] provides that the award cannot be greater than the amount the applicant would have received if she had been the deceased's surviving spouse or civil partner rather than cohabitant (19).

Land Legislation

Land Registration Act of 1925, as amended, applies to England and Wales:
- Part 2 deals with the application procedures and effects of registering freehold and leasehold land (13).

- Part 3 requires registration of a conveyance of a freehold estate, a grant of a lease of more than 21 years and an assignment of leasehold land with more than 21 years to run. If the disposition is not registered within the required time, it becomes void. The legal estate reverts to the person transferring it who then, however, holds it in a trust for the intended recipient.

- Prior to the Act, registration was on a voluntary basis. Under the Act, Sections 123–124, compulsory registration was gradually extended. Since 1 December 1990, all of England and Wales has been subject to compulsory registration (12).

 

Agricultural Holdings Act of 1986 [England and Wales], amended by Regulatory Reform [Agricultural Tenancies] Order of 2006 [England and Wales] (13):
- The major Amendments introduced in 2006:
i. enabled a successor to a tenancy to earn income from diversified activities without losing the right to succession, where the landlord consents;
ii. enabled landlords and tenants to reach their own agreements on rent reviews and end of tenancy compensation; 
iii. made it easier for landlords and tenants to restructure holdings held under a 1986 Act tenancy;
iv. removed the need for unnecessary applications to the Agricultural Land Tribunal where a landlord agrees on the successor to the tenancy;
v. enabled landlords and tenants to agree on the length of a notice period to suit their particular circumstances, providing it is longer than the minimum period of 12 months (11).

 

Agricultural Tenancies Act of 1995:
- Regulates the tenancies conditions of farm businesses started after 1 September 1995. Farm businesses, to be defined as such, have to comply with the following business conditions: i. all or part of the land comprised in the tenancy is farmed for the purposes of a trade or business, and ii. since the beginning of the tenancy, all or part of the land so comprised has been so farmed, as stated in Section 1 (21).

 

Commons Act of 2006, applies to England and Wales:
- Part 1, Sections 1–25, require commons registration authorities to bring their registers up to date by recording past changes. They will also have to keep the registers up to date by recording new changes affecting the registers (22).

- Part 2 enables the appropriate national authority to establish commons councils with functions related to the management of agricultural activities, vegetation and the exercise of rights of common on common land or on town or village greens where rights of common exist over such land, without the requirement for primary legislation.

- Section 9 prohibits the severance of common rights, preventing commoners from selling, leasing or letting their rights away from the property to which rights are attached.

- Part 3 contains provisions to prohibit the carrying out of works on certain common land without the consent of the appropriate national authority and makes provision for how consent may be obtained. It replaces Section 194 of the Law of Property Act of 1925, the main existing statutory control on works on common land, which is repealed.

- Part 4 contains provisions conferring powers of intervention on the appropriate national authority to deal with situations where unauthorized agricultural activities are taking place and damaging the common land (22).

 

Land Reform Act of 2003 [Scotland]:
- It establishes statutory public rights of access to land for recreational and other purposes and extends some of the provisions for that purpose to rights of way and other rights. It makes provision under which bodies representing rural and crofting communities may buy the land with which those communities have a connection.

- Part 2 of the Act provides opportunities for communities in rural Scotland to apply to register an interest in land and property. Once such an interest is approved by Scottish Ministers, it is entered on the Register of Community Interests in Land held by the Registers of Scotland. The effect of the registration is to provide the community with a right to buy the registered land if and when the owner decides to sell it (13).

 

Agricultural Holdings [Right to Buy Modifications] Regulations of 2004 [Scotland]:
- The Regulations modify Part 2 of the Agricultural Holdings Act of 2003 [Scotland]. Part 2 confers rights to buy land on tenants of an agricultural holding under the Agricultural Holdings Act of 1991 [Scotland] [c. 55] to which the provisions of the 2003 Act apply (13).

 

Land Tenure Reform Act of 1974 [Scotland]:
- Provides for the prohibition of new feuduties and other periodical payments from land; for the right to redeem feuduties and other such perpetual payments; for the redemption by law of feuduties and other such payments on transfer of land; for limitations on the residential use of property subject to long lease and other rights of occupancy; for the variation of heritable securities in the event of residential use of the security subjects; for restrictions on certain rights of reversion, redemption and pre-emption; for limitation of the right to raise an action of irritancy for non-payment of feuduty; for abolition of the right to create leasehold casualties; for the recognition of interposed leases; for amendment of the law relating to registration of leases; and for abolition of the registration and recording of documents in the Office of Chancery (13).

 

Abolition of Feudal Tenure etc. Act of 2000 [Scotland]:
- Section 1 abolishes the feudal system of land tenure as from the “appointed day”.

- Section 2 converts land held under feudal tenure into simple ownership of the land. Those who hold land as vassals under the feudal system, and are technically said to own the dominium utile, will automatically become owners of that land at the date of abolition. All feudal superiorities and mid-superiorities, including the paramount superiority of the Crown, are abolished and the creation of any new feus after the date of abolition is prohibited.

- Section 8 permits a former superior to claim compensation from a former vassal by serving a notice on the vassal in the appropriate form. The notice will have to be served within two years of the appointed date of abolition. Failure to serve within the two-year period would extinguish any right to compensation.

- The amount of compensation will be calculated in accordance with Section 9.

- Part 4, Sections 17–40, extinguish superiors’ rights to enforce feudal burdens and cover the arrangements for the reallotment of enforcement rights, common facilities burdens, conservation burdens, compensation for development value, real burdens and the registration of notices and agreements and applications to the Lands Tribunal to give effect to these arrangements.

 

Title Conditions Act of 2003 [Scotland]:
- Modernizes and clarifies the law on real burdens and other title conditions that remain following the abolition of the feudal system. It sets out a framework of rules for the imposition of conditions in the system of outright ownership of land, complementing feudal abolition (13).

 

Agricultural Holdings Act of 1991 [Scotland]:
- Section 3 provides that “the tenancy of an agricultural holding shall not come to an end on the termination of the stipulated endurance of the lease, but shall be continued in force by tacit relocation for another year and thereafter from year to year, unless notice to quit has been given by the landlord or notice of intention to quit has been given by the tenant”.

- Under Section 7, the tenant of an agricultural holding shall, notwithstanding any custom of the country or the provisions of any lease or of any agreement respecting the disposal of crops or the method of cropping of arable lands, have full right, without incurring any penalty, forfeiture or liability to: i) dispose of the produce of the holding, other than manure produced thereon; ii. practise any system of cropping of the arable land on the holding (20).

- Section 11, on the bequest of lease and Section 12, on the right of landlord to object to acquirer of lease, have been amended by the Agricultural Holdings [Right to Buy Modifications] Regulations of 2004 [Scotland].

 

Agricultural Holdings Act of 2003 [Scotland]:
- Amends the law relating to agricultural holdings under the Agricultural Holdings Act of 1991 [Scotland]. The Act: i. provides for new forms of agricultural tenancies and makes provisions in relation to these tenancies; ii. provides for the right of certain agricultural tenants to buy land; iii. provides for the use of certain agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes; iv. makes special provision for certain agricultural tenancies where the tenant is a partnership; v. makes new provision for the resolution of disputes between landlords and tenants arising under agricultural tenancies; and vi. provides for connected purposes.

- Section 2 allows for the conversion of an existing or new 1991 Act tenancy to a limited duration tenancy (LDT). Subsection [2] requires that the minimum length of a converted lease is 25 years, i.e. 10 years longer than the minimum length of an LDT, from the date of conversion. A 1991 Act tenancy can only be converted by the agreement of landlord and tenant. The new LDT need not necessarily comprise only the same land as the original 1991 Act tenancy. Parties can agree that additional land is incorporated into the lease in return for conversion of the existing secure tenancy to an LDT. Both the land under the original lease and the additional land can be included within a single LDT with a minimum term of 25 years.

- Section 4 [1] stipulates that where agricultural land is let to a tenant for a period of not more than five years and the lease is neither a 1991 Act tenancy nor a grazing or mowing let, that tenancy is to be a short, limited duration tenancy (SLDT).

- Section 5 [1] defines an LDT as an agricultural tenancy – other than a 1991 Act tenancy – of at least 15 years duration. Any such lease of more than 5 years becomes an LDT, with a minimum length of 15 years.

- Section 6 prevents the tenant of land subject to an SLDT from either assigning the lease or subletting the land. However, landlord and tenant can agree to terminate an SLDT prematurely.

- Under Section 14, tenants have the right to dispose of any produce of the land, other than manure, and practise any system of cropping on any arable land as they see fit.

- Under Part 2, the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland is to set up and keep a Register of Community Interests in Land to record registrations of community interest to acquire land under the Community Right to Buy provided for in that Act. Section 24 of the 2003 Act requires that the Keeper is to keep that register so that it contains a part for registering tenants’ interests in acquiring land, in accordance with Section 25 of the 2003 Act.

- Section 25 sets out the process for registering an interest in acquiring the land comprised in the lease and explains the duties of the tenant, the landowner and the Keeper (20).

 

Land Compensation Order of 1982 [Northern Ireland]:
- Section 3 states that whenever land is authorized to be acquired compulsorily, “any question of disputed compensation; and where any part of the land to be acquired is subject to a lease which comprises land not acquired, any question as to the apportionment of the rent payable under the lease; shall be referred to and determined by the Lands Tribunal”(13).

 

Land Registration Act of 1970 [Northern Ireland]:
- Section 1 confirms the existence of the Land Registry as the office where all land is registered. The Act also clarifies rules for appointment of the Registry’s officials and staff and their roles.

- Section 4 states that in relation to matters coming within the jurisdiction of a county court, the High Court and county courts have jurisdiction for the purposes of this Act.

- Section 10 provides for the Registrar to keep a registry of title to: i. freehold estates in land; ii. leasehold estates in land; iii. land comprising incorporeal rights held in gross; and iv. other rights in land as may be prescribed.

- Section 12 states that a person may be registered in accordance with Land Registry Rules: i. in the case of a freehold estate, as owner in fee simple, referred to as the “full owner” of that estate; or, ii. in the case of a settled freehold estate, if he is a tenant, whether in tail or for life, as the “limited owner” of that estate; or iii. in the case of a leasehold estate, as the person in whom the leasehold estate is vested in possession, also referred to as the “full owner” of that estate.

- Section 55 says that two or more persons may be registered as owners of the same land and thus considered joint tenants (13).

Policies/Institutional mechanisms enforcing or preventing women’s land rights

- The Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) of 2007–2013 allocates funding to help farmers, regardless of sex, manage the land more sustainably and deliver outcomes on biodiversity, landscape and access, water quality and climate change. It is jointly funded by the European Union (EU), through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, and the Government.
The RDPE has a budget of £3.9 billion. Of the total budget, £3.3 billion will be allocated to agri-environment and other land management schemes. Some £600 million will be made available to make agriculture and forestry more competitive and sustainable and to enhance opportunity in rural areas (24).

 

- The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) provides financial support to farmers for a range of farming, environmental and rural development activities (6). On 20 November 2008, the EU agriculture ministers made a “Health Check” of the CAP to assess if it was working effectively in the enlarged EU of 27 member states.
Among a range of measures, the “Health Check” agreement reduces red tape for farmers and increases the share of CAP funding that goes towards the environment and rural development schemes (6).

 

- The Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme of 2007–2013 contains a number of measures aimed at targeting the aspects of rural life that are most important to Northern Ireland.
The Programme, as part of the measure to improve the quality of life for rural communities, aims to encourage the entry of women into the labour market through addressing inadequate childcare and eldercare facilities. However, as women’s groups pointed out, the Programme fails to recognize the role of rural women as central to the development of rural areas (25).

 

- The Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme of 2000–2006 specifically indicated women as a target group. Each of the Programme’s support projects was implemented by women’s groups or was targeted at women (17).

 

- The Northern Ireland Rural Women’s Network (NIRWN) is a rural network which is jointly funded by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and the Department for Social Development (DSD) under the EU Building Sustainable Prosperity Programme.
NIRWN’s mission is to advance rural women’s equality and participation in society. NIRWN liaises with the Government on policy matters and provides support and policy advice to frontline women’s organizations operating in disadvantaged areas at a subregional level. The project had been allocated funding of £489 000 until June 2008 (17). Activities include:
i. developing weak community infrastructure in areas where little or no community-based rural women's groups exist;
ii. increasing rural women’s capacity and opportunities to influence decision-making and policy formulation;
iii. running Northern Ireland-wide communication campaigns with a local focus, highlighting the value of rural women's contribution;
iv. offering a training and capacity-building programme to rural women across the region (26).

 

- The Rural Women’s Policy Forum was formed as a direct outcome of a conference on women in rural development, organized by the Fermanagh Women’s Network in partnership with the Rural Community Network (RCN).
The purpose of the Forum is to provide a space for dialogue between the rural women’s sector and government departments on policy issues. It has a particular focus on how to promote equality for women within a rural development framework. Regular Forum members include representatives of the DARD Equality and Rural Proofing Division, the DARD Rural Development Division, DSD, the Gender Equality Unit and representatives of the rural women’s sector. It is a structured forum for regular direct policy engagement among the rural women’s sector, rural development sector and government departments (25).

 

- The Draft Crofting Reform Bill [Scotland] contains a range of measures to reform crofting, including an improved crofting register and the introduction of area committees of the Crofters Commission to improve transparency. The consultation ends on 12 August 2009 (27).

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