What is bona vacantia (ownerless property)?

In Scots law, the Crown can claim ownerless property (bona vacantia). In practice, we deal with dissolved company property, moneys remitted to the Crown, and personal estates of heirless individuals.

Dissolved company property

Where a company is dissolved still owning assets, these fall to the Crown in terms of the Companies Acts. A company's liabilities however do not fall to the Crown - they remain with the Company to the extent claims remain enforceable against them. The KLTR has no liability for any outstanding debts of the company at the date of dissolution.

We mainly deal with monies held in bank accounts which banks remit to us on becoming aware of the company’s dissolution. We may also become aware of land owned by the company through contact by a local authority, or through an approach by an individual or body connected with the company seeking to reacquire the land, or by another individual or body such as a community group seeking to purchase it

The KLTR has 3 years from becoming aware of the Crown interest to decide whether or not to disclaim a dissolved company's assets. If the KLTR does decide to disclaim property, a notice will appear in the Gazette.

Moneys remitted to the Crown held by solicitors and other professionals in respect of former clients who can no longer be traced

We have published guidance on the steps we expect solicitors and other professionals to take where such moneys are identified before sending them to us. See our note on: Client cash balances

Personal estates of heirless individuals

See our Estates / Ultimus Haeres page on what happen when individuals die without heirs and without leaving a will. 

Our policies

The kltr's policies contain Sections about where the KLTR is approached about a disposal of land or buildings, cash balances, and cases where it is being suggested that an error has arisen in respect of the title to a heritable property or where someone is seeking to register a title to heritable property to which the owner cannot be traced pursuant to the prescriptive claimant provisions in sections 43-45 of the Land Registration etc (Scotland) Act 2012.

Other lost or abandoned property (other than land)

Other lost or abandoned property is normally dealt with Police Scotland or the local authority for the area in which the property is located. Visit the Police Scotland website. for information on how to report lost property, and what happens after you report it.

Where the Police deal with the matter, the process will be regulated by the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 sections 67-79.