Registers of Scotland

Registers of Scotland
Scottish Gaelic: Clàran na h-Alba
Non-ministerial government department overview
Formed 1617 (1617)
Jurisdiction Scotland
Headquarters Meadowbank House, 153 London Road, Edinburgh EH8 7AU
Employees 884
Minister responsible
Non-ministerial government department executive
  • Sheenagh Adams, Keeper of the Registers of Scotland

Registers of Scotland (RoS) is the non-ministerial department of the Scottish Government responsible for compiling and maintaining records relating to property and other legal documents.

The important element about any system of land tenure is evidence - evidence to support the claim of the person entitled to the land. In the early days of the feudal system this evidence was provided by the ceremony on the ground of giving sasine (from the Old French seiser, "to seize"), the ceremony performed when a feudal grant of land was made.

They currently maintain 17 public registers.[1]

History of the registers

It may be claimed that Scotland was the first country to establish a national system of registration giving rights to the public rather than particular groups. Registers were kept in Edinburgh Castle from about the 13th century. The Register of Sasines (see Sasine), a public register of deeds covering all of Scotland, was set up by an Act of the Scots Parliament in 1617. The records were later moved to the old Parliament House at the end of the 17th century.

In 1765 plans were made to establish a building to house the registers with funds provided from the forfeited Jacobite estates. Robert Adam was commissioned to design the building now known as Register House in Princes Street. As work expanded, the Agency outgrew Register House and moved to the Meadowbank House site in 1976 and as of 2013 occupies additional premises in Glasgow.

The registers were originally set up to give individuals the power to have their rights recorded in an official register and to give legal protection of these rights. Over the years some registers have fallen into disuse and others such as the Register of Sasines still exist today. The Land Register was introduced in 1979, and the Register of Community Interests in Land in 2004. The Land Register is gradually superseding the Sasine Register. [2] Every Registration county is now operational in the Land Register.


Registers of Scotland is the non-Ministerial government department statutorily responsible for registering a variety of legal documents in Scotland. It is part of the Scottish Government and is associated with the Finance and Sustainable Growth portfolio.

Registers of Scotland is headed by the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland (the Keeper), who is a non-Ministerial office holder in the Scottish Administration and who also acts as Chief Executive of Registers of Scotland. He/she is appointed by the Scottish Ministers with the consent of the Lord President of the Court of Session. He/she is accountable to the Lands Tribunal for Scotland and higher Scottish civil courts in respect of the exercise of his statutory functions. He/she is accountable to the Scottish Ministers for achieving financial objectives as determined by them.

The Keeper is responsible for the running of Registers of Scotland and for the statutory functions placed upon her in relation to the management, control and maintenance of the following public registers of legal documents and deeds relating to property.

With a staff of over 1,000 people located in offices in Edinburgh and Glasgow, the Keeper is assisted by the operations director and accountable officer. The Keeper chairs the management board of Registers of Scotland which is the main decision making body. The Board meets twice a year to confirm the strategic direction. The members of the board of Registers of Scotland are as follows:[3]

Land Register of Scotland

This is a map-based register established by the Land Registration (Scotland) Act 1979 eventually to replace the Sasine Register. It is a register of the title rather than a register of deeds. Now in operation throughout the whole of Scotland, First Registration in the Land Register involves a one-off examination of the relevant title deeds. A Title Sheet is created and guaranteed by the state.

General Register of Sasines

This is a register of transactions (deeds of sale, mortgages etc.) relating to land. It is being progressively superseded by the Land Register. Properties transfer to the Land Register upon sale.

Register of Inhibitions and Adjudications

An Inhibition is a writ that prohibits a debtor from selling or burdening his or her property and an Adjudication is a transfer of property to a creditor in payment of a debt. The purpose of this register is to give notice to the public that the persons inhibited are unable to grant a good title. Anyone purchasing heritable property always insists upon a search in this register to ensure that the seller is not legally prevented from selling.

Register of Deeds and Probative Writs in the Books of Council and Session

This register, set up in 1554, is used for the registration of an original probative or holograph writing (a writing which is authenticated in a manner prescribed by Scots law in order to gain privileged status). It also acts as a safe deposit for important documents.

Register of Judgments in the Books of Council and Session

Relates to Certificates of Judgements passed in England, Ireland, the European Union and other reciprocating countries, against an individual resident in Scotland.

Register of Community Interests in Land

This register came into force on 14 June 2004. The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 Part 2 required that the Keeper should set up and keep a Register of Community Bodies Interests in Land.

Other Registers

Some registers, such as the Register of Entails, are small and not used very often. An entail is a legal instrument formerly made by a proprietor of a landed estate, which preserves the estate and regulates the inheritance. The Hornings Register, which was used to record Letters of horning obtained from the Court formed the authority for publicly denouncing the debtor as an outlaw and is no longer used. Other registers include the Great Seal, Cachet Seal and Prince's Seal, which are used for royal appointments, warrants and authentication of deeds.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest

This new register holds information on all SSSIs across Scotland. A SSSI is an area of land that Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) considers to be special for its plants, animals, habitats, its rocks or landforms, or a combination of such natural features.

The purpose of SSSIs is to safeguard and represent the diversity and geographic range of the natural features of Scotland, Great Britain and the EU member states.

The Register is available to both the public and legal profession and searching of the Register is free of charge. Users can find SSSIs using either a map or by entering search criteria such as a town name or postcode.


  1. "About us". Registers of Scotland. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  2. Linda, Nicholson. "A Consultation on the Future of Land Reform: Analysis of Consultation Responses" (pdf). N/A. Scottish Government. p. 13. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  3. "About us: Our board". Registers of Scotland. 23 January 2015.

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