A souvenir plot of land was defined in section 4(1)(b) of the Land Registration (Scotland) Act 1979 as a piece of land which, being of inconsiderable size or no practical utility, is unlikely to be wanted in isolation except for the sake of mere ownership or for sentimental reasons or commemorative purposes.
Section 4 (2)(b) of the 1979 Act states that an application for registration shall not be accepted by the Keeper if it relates to a souvenir plot of land.
The Register previously stated that its inability to register souvenir plots of land is due to a scarcity of resources:
“[a] scheme to sell off (say) 1,000 one-foot square plots and have registered the Titles thereto would employ the Keeper and his staff in a way which could be detrimental to the expeditious registration of the Titles of those whose interest was practical rather than sentimental or commemorative”.
Ownership of souvenir plots of land in Scotland is interesting for academic reasons.
The purchaser of a souvenir plot of land obtains a personal right to that plot of land. Essentially, this means that the seller of the souvenir plot cannot sell the same plot twice. Fishing rights in Scotland - another form of heritable property - are also bought and sold in this way.
Since the sale of souvenir plots are not registered with the Scottish Land Registry, the form of ownership obtained by the purchaser is not enforceable against third parties. That right is known as a 'real' right in conveyancing terms.
If, for example, a purchaser of a souvenir plot of land visited his plot to find a lumberjack there chopping down a tree, said purchaser would have no legal remedy against the lumberjack.
However, if the lumberjack argued that the souvenir plot was his, and it transpired that the same plot had been sold twice, both purchasers would have a legal remedy against the vendor. Vendors must therefore supply precise latitude and longitude co-ordinates or Ordnance Survey grid references to every purchaser in order to avoid confusion.
The vast majority of Scottish souvenir plots offered for sale are 1 square foot in size, meaning the extra layer of legal protection afforded by having a 'real' right to the land is very unlikely to be needed.