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Is HighLow a Scam?
The title for this blog is modelled on the website highlandtitlesscam.com.
*EDIT 23 August 2020 – that url now directs to a suitably bland website. Some of the original content at that URL is archived here*
Despite the url, it is a website that defends the business model and practice of a company called Highland Titles Limited.
Earlier this week, it found itself in a bit of a Twitter-storm. This storm, Storified here, involved a number of Scots law qualified individuals, including me.
Highland Titles was moved to reply [EDIT: the original reply has been taken down, but see the comparison below which features some of the text of that reply].
Although there is no reference to my Storify in that page, I suspect someone involved with that website has read it. Here is a comparison of extracts of the two pieces of writing.
As an academic, if I had two students submitting work that was this similar I would be asking to speak to them both about plagiarism. Also as an academic, I would be a little disappointed in the legal content of one of the pieces of writing, although I have to admit it is a masterful piece of selective prose.
Another masterful piece of carefully worded prose is provided by the Scots law firm J&H Mitchell, whose “Scottish Legal Advice” is linked to by Highland Titles. Although meticulously worded, it does nothing to counter the arguments Twitter user @loveandgarbage was probing away with (supported by the most recent edition of “Scottish Land Law” by Gordon and Wortley).
Since I published the Storify, literally thousands of people have read it. No-one has convinced me my line of thinking is incorrect.
As a user of social media who advertises himself as an academic lawyer, it is fair to say I have a number of legally minded followers. Not one of them has challenged me. In fact, my thoughts have been shared with gusto by other lawyers, within and outwith Scotland.
And this is not a new topic of conversation. I am not the first person to opine on this matter.
Here is a letter to a newspaper from Dr. Craig Anderson, of Robert Gordon University, explaining the law in clear and simple terms.
Here is an article from Registers of Scotland which appears in the Journal of the Law Society of Scotland. (It will be recalled that the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland is a very important woman in the grand scheme of Scots property law.)
Here is an article co-authored by my colleague Dr Douglas Bain (with Catherine Bury of Ledingham Chalmers) which appears in the Aberdeen Student Law Review.
Paragraph 12.83 of the Scottish Law Commission’s Report (2020, number 222) on Land Registration is also in point where (in relation to the earlier legislation) it is noted.
Section 4(2)(b) of the 1979 Act forbids the Keeper to accept souvenir plots for registration in the Land Register…We have seen it suggested that the non-registrability of souvenir plots means that ownership in them passes by simple contract. That is not so (emphasis added).
Choose your own friends here. I have made my choice and I am happy with the company I keep.
So what happens now?
In the vernacular, it is time for someone to shit or get off the pot.
In property law terms, someone who has been made “owner” by Highland Titles could try to register a plot of land with the Keeper. Such a person is bound to fail in that quest owing to section 22 of the Land Registration etc. (Scotland) Act 2020.
Alternatively, someone who has been made “owner” by Highland Titles could raise an action called a declarator at the relevant Sheriff Court, to establish who the owner of the land is. If that was to happen, I would very much enjoy watching Highland Titles’ argument develop in court (if indeed Highland Titles got involved). I would bring the popcorn.
Another possibility would be if someone were to occupy the land in question, with a view to obtaining ownership by possessing the land for a certain period of time and registering a deed with the Keeper (if she accepted that deed, such acceptance being by no means guaranteed) (this process is known as positive presciption in Scots law; in English law and similar legal systems this is called “adverse possession”). The owner of the land is, as you would expect, entitled to take steps to stop this happening. Which “owner” would step forward to object here? (Nota bene: I am not advocating that anyone actually go to Glencoe, or wherever the land actually is, to do this. I am simply flushing out a perfectly competent Scots law device that could operate.)
Stepping away from Scots property law, but staying within private law, is defamation relevant here? If Highland Titles is actually bothered by what is going on, a defamation action could be raised against the “Twitter trolls”. (For my part, I am comfortable with everything I have written on my blog, on Storify or on social media, even when I told Highland Titles to “fuck right off”.)
Whilst all of this has provided a bit of entertainment and hopefully a bit of education, I think that is probably enough from me on the matter, but I will note a couple of side issues before I go. First, two people contacted me to highlight the land management practices undertaken by Highland Titles: see here and here. These links are offered without comment. A further side issue relates to titles, and I do not mean title to land here. I have some new social media contacts from the world of Scottish clans, who found the whole debate interesting. I suspect they have a view on the model of lordship offered by Highland Titles.
Finally, does this blog make me some kind of über-troll? Only if trolling is now taken to mean having a knowledge of Scots law and a wish for it to be applied properly.
HighLow is an Australian regulated binary options broker operated by Highlow Markets Pty Ltd, which was founded in 2020 under ASIC regulation, and located in Sydney (Australia ) and London ( United Kingdom ) . They provide a simple trading platform, with free demo account, $50 minimum deposit, and up to $50 cash back.
|Headquarters||Main Headquarters: Sydney, Australia ( HighLow Markets Pty Ltd ) – UK/Europe: Highlow Markets Ltd and HL Private Ltd, Milton Gate, 60 Chiswell Street, London EC1Y 4AG, United Kingdom|
|Support Number||Australia +1300 168 668 / Japan + 0120-993-750|
|Support Types||E-mail , Phone|
|Languages||English , Japanese|
|Minimum 1st Deposit||AU$50|
|Minimum Account Size||AU$50 / ¥ 5000|
|Minimum Trade Amount||AU$50 / ¥ 5000|
|Maximum Trade Amount||AU$500|
|Bonus||Up to $50 Cashback on your First Trade|
|Demo info||$10,000 Demo|
|Free Demo Account||Open Demo|
|Regulation||Australian Financial Services ( Licence number 364264 )|
|Deposit Methods||Credit Cards , Neteller , Wire Transfer , Bitcoin|
|Number of Assets||25|
|Types of Assets||17 Currency Pairs (AUD/JPY, AUD/USD, AUD/JPY, CAD/JPY, CHF/JPY, EUR/AUD, EUR/GBP, EUR/JPY, EUR/USD, GBP/AUD, GBP/JPY, GBP/USD, NZD/JPY, NZD/USD, USD/CAD, USD/CHF and USD/JPY ) , 7 indices ( ASX, Nikkei, Hang Seng, SS, FTSE, Dow, S&P ) and 1 commodity ( Gold )|
- Regulated Broker by Australian Financial Services
- Minimum Deposit only AU$50 – ¥ 5000
- $10,000 Demo Account with No Registration Required
- Up to 190% Payout
- Fast Withdrawals
- Bitcoin Deposit
- They don’t accept clients from European Economic Area ,Singapore and USA.
Last HighLow review update: April 3 2020
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What is High Low Markets?
HighLow is an Australian regulated binary options broker, which was founded in 2020 under the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) regulation. HighLow is owned by an Australian registered company called HighLow Markets Pty Ltd (registration number: ABN 143 553 628, active from July 1, 2020). HighLow’s ASIC license number is 364264.
HighLow’s primary headquarter is located in Sydney, Australia and they have a secondary operational office in Japan.
Over the last few years, High Low Markets Pty Ltd has gained a positive reputation across Australia through its stellar binary trading platform and superior customer service. In fact, since they launched the secured and defensive binary options trading platform, it helped people forget about the worries of investing a high amount of money in binary options trading because of the ease of use. HighLow offers all of their customers a risk-free trading environment and they offer new traders a $50 cash bonus once they open a live trading account and complete the first trade.
Compared to other similar binary options brokers in Australia, binary options traders have reported that they have managed to gain a higher rate of profit is because of the following good points:
- User-friendly trading platform
- How easy it is to open an account with them
- Start trading binary options on secured trading regulated by the Australian government.
Is this broker Scam or not?
High Low is not a scam broker due to the following reasons:
- This platform is an ASIC regulated broker (Australia).
- A very low minimum deposit of only AU$50.
- It keeps all client’s funds in segregated accounts in premium Australian banks.
- HighLow provides outstanding support from its main office in Sydney.
- It processes all withdrawals quickly.
- The company ownership is totally verifiable.
- No bonus policy complaints.
- No illegal high-pressure sales tactics.
- It provides a 100% free demo account to test their platform
Website Usability & Platform: 100/100
This Australian binary broker offers an easy to use the platform. It enables the clients to experience a priceless cloud-based application. The platform can be accessed from any modern web-browsers.
Their trading platform works on both Windows and Apple’s Mac computers. Furthermore, this broker has made a lot of investment to enable their clients with remote trading experience. Clients can access the platform using smartphone platforms as well.
Web platform ( in English )
HighLow understands that today’s binary options traders are busy. Traders are often active during free time on the go. Currently, HighLow’s clients can enjoy trading binary options on the go by using their Android and iPhone apps. These apps allow clients to use this platform even when they not in the office.
Their trading platform is actually a version of MarketsPulse. It is one of the most versatile options for trading platforms in the industry.
We found that this binary options trading platform is suitable for almost any types of trader. It hardly matters if you want to trade smaller timeframe options. Also, you can play the market on hourly charts.
Also, clients can try out HighLow’s cutting-edge binary options trading platform. It is developed in a way to serve both beginners as well as experienced traders. HighLow’s technical team has done a wonderful job. As they developed the platform in such a manner that it is very easy for everyone to use.
Assets and Expiry Time: 99/100
HighLow offers traders two different Binary Options: The Spread HIGH/LOW and the HIGH/LOW. With Spread, the traders have the chance to get a payout of 200%. So, it means double of their investment amount.
When using the HIGH/LOW option, the traders can get payouts between 180% and 190% of their investment. Regardless of these options, the traders need to choose the expiry time. It can be 15 minutes, 1 hour or 1 day. You can trade on the following 25 assets:
- 17 Currency pairs: AUD/JPY, AUD/USD, AUD/JPY, CAD/JPY, CHF/JPY, EUR/AUD, EUR/GBP, EUR/JPY, EUR/USD, GBP/AUD, GBP/JPY, GBP/USD, NZD/JPY, NZD/USD, USD/CAD, USD/CHF and USD/JPY
- 7 indices: ASX, Nikkei, Hang Seng, SS, FTSE, Dow, S&P
- 1 commodity: Gold
Crypto Options: 95/100
HighLow’s new set of crypto-based trading assets for binary options traders came out in early 2020. These crypto assets enable traders to take a position on a number of Cryptocurrencies. At the same time, traders did not need to have a crypto wallet.
HighLow binary options trading offers Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple, and Bcash.
There are a number of binary options brokers who currently offer various Cryptocurrency based trading assets. However, their payout ratio is rather low.
However, HighLow offers a 1.85 payout ratio for all of its Crypto Binary Options assets. It means that if you open a trade for $10, you can earn as much as $18.5 from that trade.
Trading Cryptocurrencies are notably different compared to Forex pairs. Because Forex pairs trade against each other. But, the Crypto Options from HighLow trades only against the U.S. Dollar. For example, the Quote 691.61 in the chart above means you can either buy or sell each Ether (Ethereum) for $691.61 U.S. Dollar.
Also, the underlying fundamentals of trading Forex and Cryptocurrencies are vastly different. HighLow ensures easy of trading on the platform. When you trade their Crypto Binary Options assets, it feels similar to trading any other asset on their platform. The trading functionality of these Crypto assets is exactly the same.
They currently do not offer Turbo options that allow short-trading of a number of select Forex pairs. However, their Crypto Binary Options assets can only be traded with larger timeframe like 1-Day (24-hour). The lack of Crypto Binary Options assets in the Turbo mode is certainly going to disappoint short-term binary options traders, but this trading platform may introduce the Turbo option in the near future.
Demo Account:: 100/100
Anyone who wishes to trade with HighLow can opt to open a free $10,000 demo account. Meaning, they do not need to register with a live account or make a deposit to try trading with them.
Once you get familiar with HighLow’s trading platform you will like their service. Then, you can then decide to open a live account with them. HighLow’s demo offers the best aspects of trading binary options. You can start trading paper money with this binary options broker. So, you do not need to risk real money to try out their platform and services.
Maximum Profits & Commissions: 100/100
The maximum profit a trader can get within a trade is about 200%. This is true when the traders use the Spread HIGHLOW option for their trade.
The minimum amount for withdrawal is $10 for Bank transfers. But it is $50 for Neteller withdrawals.
Minimum Deposit & Bonuses: 100/100
HighLow falls under the regulation of ASIC as it is a company in Australia. However, they truly focus on becoming an international client base. Currently, they offer accounts in several different currency denominations. Most of these international currency accounts come with a minimum deposit requirement in their respective denominated currencies as well.
High Low accepts minimum account deposit of AU$50 If you make the deposits using bank transfer, credit Cards or Neteller, and US$50 for all accounts with deposits in US dollars.
They offer up to $50 cash back to new accounts on the first trade.
Customer Service: 100/100
This platform offers customer support through different channels. It includes e-mail and phone. If your support need is not urgent, we recommend reaching them by emailing at [email protected]
However, for more urgent needs, it would be better to call them. HighLow has different offices in Australia and Japan. It currently lists 2 phone numbers in these respective countries. 1300 870 442 is for Australia and 0120-951-847 is for Japan.
During our research, we spent almost a whole trading week. Trading different types of binary options assets at HighLow with their innovative trading platform. We found the cloud-based platform to be very responsive. Also, it hardly lagged.
We faced connection issues only once during the week. However, we were able to reach out to their customer support over the phone. Their knowledgeable customer support agent helped us understand that the problem was occurring due to our browser. Once we followed their instructions and made changes in the browser to support the latest HTML5 protocol, the problem went away immediately.
HighLow recommends all customers check their FAQ section first. If they cannot find the answer to their question, they are also welcome to send an email to the support address. The email address is [email protected] Clients can also reach customer service by phone. The phone support is available from Monday to Friday, between 8.00 am and 6.00 pm AEST/ADST.
Deposit Options: 100/100
This platform offers four different deposit options. These are Credit Card, Neteller, Bank Wire Transfer, and Bitcoin. However, in case of withdrawal, they only accept Neteller and wire transfers.
HighLow is one of the few binary options brokers in Australia that segregates funds from customer deposits. We made a query to HighLow about this practice. They mention that client funds always remain in segregated trust accounts with National Australia Bank (NAB). NAB is one of the largest banks in Australia.
Furthermore, HighLow representative claim that they do not use client funds to hedge their market positions. For hedging and managing risks, it uses own funds. This way, client funds remain completely safe from any risks arising from HighLow’s business operation.
From 2020, High-Low is accepting deposits with Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency.
HighLow processes withdrawals on the same day via wire transfer. The request for withdrawal via Neteller always happens in real-time.
The minimum withdrawal amount is $50. However, it could be less if you are closing your trading account with them.
After a week of testing their platform, we made two separate withdrawal requests. One during the weekdays and one on the weekends. The payout for withdrawal request on Wednesday was successful on the same day. But we had to wait till Monday to get the bank withdrawal amount in our bank account. We got to know later that all Neteller withdrawals are processed in real time. It seems that if we made any withdrawals during the weekends using Neteller, it would have been issued immediately.
HighLow.net Review & Overall Rating – Summary: 99/100
While High-Low is a regulated binary options broker in Australia, it is worth noting that their regulatory oversight does not include non-Australian citizens. Hence, if you are planning to open an account with this Australian broker as an international client, you may not be covered by rules that are valid for Australian citizens.
However, HighLow.net is conducting business in several countries with a good reputation and in the online trading business, reputation is closely tied to brand value. Therefore, it is unlikely that you will face any major issues with HighLow.net and they would not discriminate based on your geographic location. After all, they have earned a reputation and they will likely try to protect it at any cost!
High Low is a good Australian regulated broker, which offers its customers easy to use methods of binary trade. This Aussie company also allows the customers to use their platform on Android and iPhones, which offers them complete flexibility to use the platform anytime and anywhere. Their minimum deposit is just AUS 50 with amazing returns up to 190%. Another good point is its fast withdrawal times and payouts.
We found that their customer support to be very responsive and anyone looking to trade with an Australian broker regulated by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission, they should consider this broker.
Response to Criticism – is Highland Titles Legitimate?
Written by: Doug
Published: 23rd February 2020
Last Updated on 27th January 2020
Back in 2020, we received some criticism on Twitter: some was fair, some was unfair. The criticism led to accusations of Highland Titles being a scam – which is as ridiculous as it is offensive. Highland Titles is a legitimate and reputable business which has been trading for 13 years, and if there is another gift company that engages so well and so often with its customers, we are yet to find it.
The criticism came from within a community that are unlikely to ever be Highland Titles customers, so only one side of the argument has been seen and the views of the very large numbers of our satisfied customers remain unheard. We are keen to address that imbalance.
So far, we have chosen not respond on Twitter as it’s a medium we struggle to fully understand, but some genuine questions have been raised. Here are our answers:
Is Highland Titles a scam?
No. We sell souvenir plots land and and accompanying gift packs all over the world. Nobody – not even our biggest critics – disputes the legitimacy of souvenir plots. Souvenir plots of land have been bought and sold by a number of companies since at least 1971,which is when Sir Geoffrey Howe (then the attorney general) spoke warmly about the trade in the House of Commons. Souvenir plots were legally defined in section 4(1)(b) of the Land Registration (Scotland) Act 1979. Neither the Registers of Scotland nor the Scottish Government have issue with souvenir plots they have never caused any problems.
What our critics say is that since sales of souvenir plots aren’t registered like traditional plots of land such as building plots, it’s a stretch to say that Highland Titles customers own the land they buy.
Is it stretching things too far to call someone who owns a souvenir plot of land a landowner?
This is a marketing question, rather than a legal one, and such claims are regulated by The Advertising Standards Authority who are happy with the claim. There are a handful of people on Twitter who disagree, but you can’t please everyone and it’s foolish to try.
Why are the ASA happy with the claim? Our customers obtain a personal right to a souvenir plot of land. This is a valid form of ownership – clearly explained on our website – that can be passed on to future generations. Fishing rights in Scotland are bought and sold in exactly the same way without anyone questioning whether someone actually owns fishing rights.
The other criticism we occasionally encounter is that some people don’t like us referring to our customers as the Lords and Ladies of Glencoe. These are not Lord and Lady titles of nobility but it is certainly not a scam. Please indulge us as we pose a few questions of our own:
1. Would a scam operation succeed in obtaining advice from Scottish solicitors that confirmed the legality of our business model?
2. Would a scam operation work successfully with the Advertising Standards Authority to ensure its marketing copy complied with the ASA Code of Practice?
3. Would a scam operation have a 30-day no-quibble refund policy?
4. After thousands of reviews, would a scam operation achieve a satisfaction score of 9.6/10 on the independent review site Trustpilot and 97% on Trip Advisor?
5. Would Trip Advisor award their prestigious “ Certificate of Excellence ” to a scam?
6. Would a scam operation even be found on an independent review site?
7. If we were a scam operation, wouldn’t our customers be upset, rather than delighted?
8. Would a scam operation be so readily contactable?
9. Would a scam operation donate tens of thousands of pounds annually to local charities and good causes?
10. Would a scam operation arrange an annual gathering of its customers, so that they may meet us in person?
We are incredibly proud of what we do and what we have achieved as a business, and we accept that we occasionally divide opinion.
Some people think the idea of owning a souvenir plot of land is strange and unusual, but the overwhelming majority see our product as it is intended; a bit of fun and the chance to be part of something constructive and rewarding.
It is a fact that our business brings not only pleasure, but also some serious benefits to Scotland and the local area. Over 35000 “Lairds” have visited their plot in the last five years. Most of these visitors come from overseas.
Across the world, people are wondering where to go on holiday this year and thousands are deciding to visit Scotland at least in part because of the Highland Titles Nature Reserve. The souvenir plots of land are giving them a real sense of connection. Ultimately, the Scottish economy benefits from the tourists who come to Scotland and we are proud to be making our contribution.
Our regular newsletters are read by over 10,000 people, and when we ask questions about the direction of the estate or landowning experience more than 5000 will regularly participate. Hundreds of people attend our Highland Gatherings from across the world, where they meet us and see the progress of our Nature Reserve projects. Many of our sales are made to existing customers.
We reiterate the challenge to our critics to find another Scottish gift company that engages so well and so often with its customers.
Are we actually selling land?
The Twitter debate revolved around the legality of selling souvenir plots of land. It is unfortunate that we failed to realise that a good number of the people on Twitter were genuinely interested and were asking reasonable questions rather than mischief making. Some of those people even had legal qualifications, and through our actions of blocking people and remaining silent, we alienated them and disrespected their opinion. For that, we apologise.
The advice of our Scottish solicitors is that our customers obtain a personal right to their souvenir plot of land. Since the Twitter debate, our solicitors have reiterated their confidence in their advice. This advice has also been confirmed by a Scottish QC. We do not hide the fact that these plots cannot be registered. Quite the opposite; that information is displayed prominently on our website. The reality which our critics have arguably failed to understand is that the inability to register a souvenir plot of land with the Registers of Scotland doesn’t matter to our customers. In 13 years, we haven’t met a single customer who could care less.
Much of what has been said on Twitter is anonymous, but there are some written opinions on the internet that are attributable and deserve careful reading.
A firm of Scottish solicitors (not acting for Highland Titles), Halliday Campbell WS, have stated:
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“The important thing to bear in mind is the difference in Scotland between a real and a personal right. It is the real right that people recognise as ownership and Scots law has always required delivery of the thing bought to create that real right. To use the posited example, if I “buy” your kettle, I don’t “own” it until you give me possession of it. If you keep it and sell it to someone else, I can sue you but the sale is still effective.”
“A real right of ownership in land (in the sense of a right that is enforceable against third parties) can only be obtained by registration in the Land Register or by recording a deed in the Register of Sasines as appropriate.”
We think there is a clear implication from this statement that some other form of ownership in the land is possible to obtain.
On the Scottish Parliament website, Ross Finnie MSP stated
“Inability to register a souvenir plot means that the purchaser can only get a personal right of ownership…… In view of the fact that titles cannot be registered to the plots, it is not known what rights and responsibilities attach to the “owners” of the small plots of land, but any such rights and responsibilities would be of a personal nature. For the same reason is it not known what acreage of Scotland has been ’sold off’ in plots of a very small size. It is not known how many such schemes there have been in the last 20 years. The Registers of Scotland have no knowledge of any problems caused by them.”
If our position were to be legally challenged (in the conventional way, rather than on Twitter), we could easily change our product offering. Some of our competitors lease their souvenir plots of land. We could give our customers the chance to dedicate, name or sponsor their plot of land and their customer experience would not be affected. But we have confidence in our product, backed up by 13 years of successful trading in an industry that is over 40 years old.
There is no shame in changing and adapting around regulatory and legal challenges. It is simply part and parcel of running a business as it matures. Should we need to change, we will change.
We strongly believe that our customers receive our product in the spirit it was intended: a souvenir. Souvenir plots are not bought for their practical value, but nevertheless they are regularly visited and bring a great deal of pleasure to their owners.
How much money are we making?
Highland Titles Limited is a successful business. In 2020, some people thought that was newsworthy. Apparently, we need to sell just 16 million one square foot plots at £29.99 in order to rake in £479 million! At the current rate of sales, we would all be over 1000 years old before that happened.
We think there are two reasons why some people are keen to speculate and comment on our finances: our Channel Islands location and The Highland Titles Charitable Trust for Scotland.**
We have been based in the Channel Islands since 2006. That is where we live and work. We are not living in Scotland and making use of a complicated offshore structure. The company was simply incorporated in the place where we live and we are here for personal reasons, not tax reasons. Our founder’s family roots in the Channel Islands go back to the 15th Century. Some people have said we are avoiding Scottish taxes by not being based in Scotland. By that same logic, we are avoiding Japanese taxes by not being in Japan.
We have no problem with people asking whether the sale of Scottish land should be taxed in Scotland in the future. That is a good question, but it’s surely going too far to say we are avoiding a tax that doesn’t currently exist.
We pay any and all taxes that we are liable for and have never tried to avoid or evade our obligations to pay tax. We are not even certain that we would pay more tax if we were a Scottish charity. There is a wide range of tax incentives available for Scottish charities, and even if we did pay more tax, there would be less money to spend on our charitable objectives. Perhaps some people would prefer that, but not everyone would.
Highland Titles Limited was formed by Dr Peter Bevis in 2006. He gifted the company to The Highland Titles Charitable Trust for Scotland which ensures that the land we sell can only ever be used for the purposes of conservation. It is a charity registered in Guernsey, number CH444.
It is a ‘purpose’ trust; the purpose being conservation in Scotland. There are no beneficiaries. There are two trustees, neither of whom can be remunerated by the Trust.
We have also been criticised for not making our accounts public, even though there is no requirement for us to do so. Aside from commercial confidentiality and our right to privacy, we realise that however much we do, there will always be some people we can’t please.
To provide an example, we once provided a large grant towards the cost of a new playground at the Duror Community Centre. The Community Centre was delighted, but others simply criticised us for not paying for it all. I’m sure you can all guess how much the critics contributed towards the cost.
Although we are based in the Channel Islands, our business spends a lot of money in Scotland. Here is a brief summary of how Scotland benefits from our work:
- The Highland Titles Nature Reserve attracts thousands of overseas tourists each year
- These tourists stay in local hotels and spend money in local shops. If each tourist spends just £100 during their stay, it is reasonable to assume that millions of pounds have been spent in Scotland over the last nine years as a result of Highland Titles
- Our conservation work creates work for local contractors
- Our Nature Reserve has transformed an inaccessible commercial forestry plantation full of non-native trees into an official 4* tourist attraction that people can enjoy
- We spend a substantial six-figure sum on advertising every year, and an advert for Highland Titles is an advert for visiting Scotland
- We spend a significant sum of money every year with our web developers, marketing agency and software developers, all of whom are based in Scotland. We therefore help to create employment in Scotland and raise tax in Scotland.
We do a lot for Scotland. With a bit of luck and support, we can do a lot more.
Are we actually interested in conservation?
Our conservation work is far too extensive to list here, and it is backed up with physical evidence. We hope it will suffice to say that we have indisputably transformed an inaccessible commercial forestry plantation into an amenity woodland. We have already planted thousands of Scottish native trees, and we will plant thousands more.
The Highland Titles Nature Reserve is an official 4* tourist attraction and everyone is welcome to visit. It’s more enjoyable if you’ve bought a plot though, it has to be said.
In amongst the cynicism, however, there were some genuine questions.
We’ve been questioned about why one of our nature reserves has rhododendrons and Sitka spruce trees (two non-native species). This is because we deliberately bought land that was largely commercial forestry so we could return it to a more natural state. There wouldn’t be much point in purchasing something that was already in a pristine natural state. If we did, no doubt we would be criticised, much as the RSPB were in 2020
In the fullness of time, we want to remove all the Sitka from the land we manage. We don’t like Sitka (does anyone?), but we will have to wait until it’s economical to remove it. There will be huge costs involved in getting rid of the old forestry plantations, not least because of the new planning laws that make it harder to install forestry tracks.
Others have suggested that there was never any chance of the land we own being developed, and therefore the argument that selling souvenir plots “prevents development” is invalid, but this argument doesn’t stand up to any scrutiny whatsoever. Windfarms and commercial forestry are clear evidence that development does occur in remote areas.
Shouldn’t the sale of souvenir plots be stopped?
We appreciate that even if you accept that our work benefits Scotland, you still might feel that the sale of souvenir plots of land should be stopped. We respectfully disagree.
In terms of Land Reform, the aims of our company are broadly in line with the aims of the Scottish Government, who want to ensure Scotland’s land “benefits the many, not the few”.
That is exactly what we are doing. Without the likes of Highland Titles, owning a piece of Scotland is an impossible dream, given that plots of woodland are rarely available for anything less than a five-figure sum.
As far as our customers are concerned, having some form of ownership of land in Scotland is better than having none at all, and because we manage the land on their behalf, we can legitimately claim to have brought together thousands of like-minded people with an interest in Scotland. Frankly, we think that’s wonderful.
Why can’t souvenir plots be registered in Scotland?
In 1981, The Registers of Scotland refused to register ownership of souvenir plots of land due to a scarcity of resources:
“A scheme to sell off 1000 one square foot plots and register the titles thereto would employ the Keeper and his staff, public servants, 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.”
With all due respect to the Registers of Scotland, we are not sure this reason is still valid. Surely the burden of work has been eased to some extent by technology? There weren’t many computers around in 1981.
And is it really in the public interest to have an incomplete record of landownership interests in Scotland?
Can you actually become a Lord or Lady?
Most people consider this as harmless fun, and helps to create a feeling of community amongst our customers. It provides an extra bit of novelty. We accept that some people may not like it, but the personal preferences of a small number of people is the full extent of the issue here.
For reasons unknown, the Lord Lyon (for those who have never heard of Lord Lyon, the Scottish Government describes him as having jurisdiction over the use of Arms and Heraldry in Scotland) is occasionally referred to as an authority on the use of the word “Laird” by our critics.
Lord Lyon has no authority or jurisdiction over the use of the word Laird, and we have a letter sent by Lord Lyon to one of our customers confirming this.
Unless the question is about armorial bearings, the Lord Lyon is wholly irrelevant.
It’s been suggested we should change our sales literature based on the recent legal debate. As discussed above, our legal position remains the same and we are therefore confident that our advertising reflects the reality of the situation.
Whilst our main website is carefully worded after working with the Advertising Standards Authority to get the right messaging, other advertising under our control could be improved and we need to invest more in training our representatives and introduce checks into all our advertising.
It was embarrassing to see an old Google advert of ours that mentioned “noble titles”. Our website has never advertised noble titles, and we are confident that there has never been a time when our customers could get through the online check-out process thinking they were about to be knighted by the Queen.
That advert was not created with the intention of deceiving, but with the intention of showing potential customers an advert that contained the same text as their search. It didn’t appear very often, but the reality is that some people hear about Highland Titles and the Laird, Lord and Lady merchandise, and then search for ‘noble titles’ because they are at the beginning of their research and don’t fully understand what we do.
If an advert contains the text ‘noble titles’, it is likely to perform better (i.e appear higher and cost less) than an advert that doesn’t contain that text if the customer has indeed searched for ‘noble titles’.
We have actually blogged on the differences between our approach and those who are looking to buy a title.
We are not trying to justify the advert. It was a mistake. It might have saved us a few quid, but it means some people have bundled us in with some fairly horrific websites on the internet that we try very hard to distance ourselves from.
And if you’re still not convinced….
If any of our customers feel we have misrepresented the law, then we will have no issue in refunding their cash. They just have to ask.
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