New Land Court Chairman installed

Sheriff Roderick John MacLeod QC has been installed as the tenth Chairman of the Scottish Land Court following the retirement of Lord McGhie.


The installation ceremony, held at the Court’s premises at George House, Edinburgh on Friday 17 October, was presided over by the Lord President of the Court of Session and head of the Scottish judiciary, Lord Gill.

Sheriff MacLeod has taken the judicial title of Lord Minginish, after the parish in Skye in which he was brought up. 

Although he himself was born and raised in Skye, Lord Minginish’s parents were both from Harris and moved to Portnalong in Skye in the 1920s as part of a land settlement scheme being carried out by the Board of Agriculture at that time. 

Lord Minginish is, therefore, the son of a crofting family and rooted in the history of land resettlement with which the Land Court had so much to do in the early years of its existence. 

Lord Minginish also becomes President of the Lands Tribunal for Scotland, the two posts having been linked since 1978.

The Land Court is statutorily obliged to have a Gaelic speaking member but Lord Minginish will be the first Gaelic speaker to occupy the chair.

Lord Minginish, 61, was educated at Portnalong Junior Secondary School, Portree High School and the University of Edinburgh, from which he graduated with honours in law in 1975. 

Following a legal apprenticeship and two years spent working in Gaelic broadcasting with the BBC he practised first as a solicitor in Edinburgh before being admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in July 1994.

In October 2000 he was appointed a full-time Sheriff and in 2006 was seconded to the Scottish Land Court as its Deputy Chair, although he continued to sit as a sheriff at Edinburgh Sheriff Court when Land Court commitments permitted.  In 2013 he was given the rank and dignity of Queen’s Counsel.

The Land Court was created by the Small Landholders (Scotland) Act 1911 and opened its doors for business in 1912.

Accordingly it celebrated its centenary in 2012 when a volume of essays on aspects of the history of the Court was published under the name No Ordinary Court (Avizandum Publishing, Edinburgh, 2012), a name intended to reflect the unique character of the Court, which comprises both legally qualified and agriculturally qualified members.

Although initially confined to the law relating to smallholdings, its jurisdiction has been expanded gradually over the years and now includes not only landlord and tenant disputes in crofting and farming but a variety of other jurisdictions, including appeals against Single Farm Payment penalties and dealing with certain environmental matters.

The Court is based in Edinburgh but travels throughout Scotland, hearing cases in local Sheriff Courts, village halls, community centres and the like.