In this case, the Crown’s Solicitor of Tithes claimed that the Countess of Fife, as executrix for her father the Earl of Caithness, was liable for certain bygone teinds. Litigation over the teinds had progressed episodically since the 1730s, when a previous Solicitor raised an inhibition of teinds and brought a process of spuilzie (unlawful meddling with movable property) against the Earl of Caithness. The court eventually found that the teinds belonged to the Crown, relying on evidence that the Earl of Caithness paid teind tack duties, or rental fees, to the Crown's collector of bishop’s rents. Having established the teinds' rightful owner, the Court moved on to the question of arrears. The Countess of Fife, joined by her husband the Earl of Fife, argued that the Crown had discharged its claim to bygone teinds by accepting tack duties after the date of the inhibition. Under this theory of the case, the Earl of Caithness possessed the teinds by “tacit relocation,” similar to the implied renewal of a lease when the landlord continues to accept rent. Thus, the Crown could claim arrears of tack duties, but not the free teinds themselves. The Solicitor of Tithes answered that his office was distinct from the collector of bishop’s rents, which had accepted the tack duties. Further, he argued that the inhibition used by the previous Solicitor of Tithes had the legal effect of preventing tacit relocation. In the Solicitor’s view, this principle was so well established that it defeated a claim of good faith raised by the defenders.

Published Reports

William Morison, The Decisions of the Court of Session (1811), pg. 11