About transparency regimes
Transparency is an essential principle within government, aiming to deliver greater openness to the public. Transparency regimes enable the public to have greater access to information relating to various entities where this information may be obscured. They act as the legislative tool used to help ensure the information is secure, reliable, and accessible to the public. Whilst not limited to, they can help unveil governance structures and identify those who can make decisions within those entities.
In 2016 Scottish Government ran a Public Consultation on controlling interests in land and improving transparency in land ownership in Scotland. This formed part of the larger conversation around the Land Reform agenda.
In 2018 draft regulations were laid, and the Scottish Government consulted on these. These were then unanimously passed by Parliament in February 2021.
In turn and in conjunction with other transparency regimes The Register of Persons Holding a Controlled Interest in Land (RCI) will enable the public to look behind various entities in Scotland, including overseas entities, partnerships, and trusts, to see who controls land.
Transparency regimes and RCI
Depending on who is already subject to a transparency regime, you may not have to register in the RCI. This is summarised in the table below.
|Party who is subject to another transparency regime||Detail||Outcome|
|Recorded person already has their information held in one of the transparency regimes listed in Schedule 2 of the RCI regulations.||Not required to submit an entry for RCI.|
|Associate has information disclosed already in another transparency regime listed in Schedule 2, but the recorded person does not.||Both recorded person and the associate must be entered into RCI. Information on which transparency regime the associate is already disclosed in must also be given.|
Examples of transparency regimes
Below are examples of transparency regimes that may mean you are not required to report to RCI.
Charitable incorporated organisations (CIOs) and Scottish charitable incorporated organisations (SCIOs) are not subject to the Regulations. CIOs are active in England and Wales – SCIOs are their Scottish equivalent.
As the information is already publicly available, the regulations do not require SCIOs or CIOs to report in RCI.
Register of People with Significant Control
Those who report into the Register of People with Significant Control (PSC) regime held by Companies House being:
- UK companies
- Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs)
- Scottish Limited Partnerships (SLPs)
- Societas Europaeae
- Scottish partnerships where all the partners are limited companies
- Certain overseas entities
- Certain UK body corporates
Public authorities to which the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 or the Freedom of Information Act 2000 apply will not be required to report. These Acts apply widely to public sector bodies including:
- non-departmental public bodies
- local authorities
- health boards
In each of these cases, the control of the organisation will already be transparent through legislation.
However, the exemption for recorded persons does not extend to bodies who voluntarily comply with Freedom of Information legislation but those who are not legally bound to do so.
Certain bodies who report to the Financial Conduct Authority for publication in the Register of Mutuals do not need to report to RCI. This includes:
- building society
- co-operative or community benefit society
- credit union
- friendly society
A full list of the categories of exemption can be found in Schedule 2 of the RCI regulations.
If you fall within the list of transparency regimes you are out of scope from being a recorded person and will not have to register in RCI. This is the case irrespective of the capacity you act in. This means if, for example, a UK company is the owner or tenant the fact that they hold the property as a trustee, a partner or on behalf of a foreign entity will not bring them in scope of the RCI.
A registration of an overseas entity in the Register of Overseas Entities (ROE) will not remove any duty on the overseas entity should they be required to register in RCI. Overseas entities that are in scope of RCI must register irrespective of ROE and make arrangements to comply with RCI legislation ahead of the transition period ending and criminal offences coming into force in April 2024.