It's fair to say that weusually leave the chat on "maintaining good relationships" to our colleagues inthe family law team here at Brodies, so this seems an unusual topic for me to be blogging on. However, working in the rural sector and agricultural holdings in particular never ceases to be varied - so here goes!

Some blog readers will be aware that Andrew Thin, the Scottish Government's independent advisor on tenant farming, has been very busy in recent months working on various Guidance Notes andCodes of Practice (as an aside, Mr Thin's role is a short-term one that was created until such time as legislation was brought forward to establish a Tenant Farming Commissioner - the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 has now done that albeit the relevant provisions are not yet in force). We have blogged previously on some of the earlier guidance resulting from Mr Thin's work.

The latest piece of guidance, whichis entitled aBrief Guide to Maintaining Good Relationships, was issued on 14 June 2016. Itfocuses on the"pivotal role" of agents in the landlord/tenant relationship andsets out the "behavioural criteria for good relations". Mostpeople working in therural sectorwillview much of the detailas simplysetting down practices which are already followed. However, if it is not followed across the board, itmay be a precursor to more formal action in this area (at present the guidance is simply that - it does not have the force of law).

The guide is not just directed at land agents but they are undoubtedly the most affected by it, having come under a lot of scrutiny in the parliamentary process which led to the recent passing of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016. Writing on the role of land agents generally before the guidance was finalised, Mr Thin sought to emphasise that it's not what you do, it's the way that you do it and acknowledged that "Up and down the country there are numerous hard working land agents providing a vital interface between landlords and tenants in often challenging circumstances. Most do the job with skill, energy, patience and remarkable sensitivity."

The promotion of good relations in the agricultural tenancy sector, and indeed the rural sector as a whole, is to be welcomed, but for the majority of stakeholders across the industry it is likely to be business-as-usual as their attention turns to the provisions of Part 10 of Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 being brought into force in the future.