THIS week two groups of people may suffer bitter disappointment and personal loss as a result of our archaic land laws. However, their pain could provide a spur to the process of achieving real equity and democracy in our country.

On Monday the members of the Planning Committee of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park will visit the tiny community of Carrick Castle at the end of Loch Goil to see for themselves a site on which wealthy London-based business growth entrepreneur Pelham Olive wishes to build a rather ugly self-styled “hunting lodge”.

Over the past few years Olive has bought over 12-and-a-half square miles of Argyllshire countryside alongside the village. Public money has been used to support tree planting and he has gained permission for a pier and a road to remove the wood. Now he is seeking to build a headquarters for his local activities.

Yet although he and his agent have attended public meetings at no time has Olive formally sought the agreement of the people of Carrick Castle to his plans. Of course, according to the law as it presently stands he does not need to do so and unfortunately the new Land Reform Bill as currently drafted will not place upon him binding obligations in this regard and will create no sanction to ensure that he complies.

Olive has employed the very best lawyers and other professionals to argue his case as he was entitled to do. The Park’s Planning Officials and Committee have had to operate according to the letter of the law as it stands and that is fully understood. But it is still hard not to conclude that even in the heart of a National Park money speaks clearer and louder than the voice of either the local residents or the environment.

Consequently, barring a major surprise, Olive will soon get to build his “monstrosity” as one local resident has recently described it and will then be able to do whatever he likes on his property (within the law).

Yet no one who actually lives in the village wants the place to be changed for the worse and for ever in the way Olive, and Olive alone, has decreed.

Later in the week Andrew Stoddart is almost certain to lose the tenancy of Coulston Mains in East Lothian which he has farmed for over 22 years. Despite a high profile campaign, 12,000 signatures on a petition, the intervention of a Parliamentary Committee and a personal and public appeal from a Cabinet Secretary to the trustees of the Coulston Estate (the “life rental” of which is vested in a Tory councillor in East Lothian, Ludovic Broun-Lindsay) there is no sign that the lawyers, factors or owner (and there is a confusing cats cradle of all of them in the frame) are going to show the flexibility and compassion which common humanity and natural justice demands.

No doubt Stoddart made mistakes during the legal process and no doubt that the Estate is operating entirely within its legal rights. The fact is that this case – and the several others still to be resolved as a result of the fall out from a flawed piece of legislation in 2003 – has shown as clearly as the unhappy events at Carrick Castle that in 21st-century Scotland the law continues to ensure that the rights of property will always trump (a curiously appropriate word signifying an arrogant assertion of the power of money) the rights of men and women actually living on the land.

Some suggest that it is the European Convention on Human Rights that is to blame because of the need for all laws in Scotland to conform with it. But ECHR was never meant to be a tool to protect the rich against the poor.

Such an interpretation of the European Convention – and in particle Article 1, Protocol 1 which establishes the general principle of peaceful enjoyment of one’s property – is therefore perverse. If it is allowed to stand unchallenged during the present debate on land reform then the implication is that nothing can be done to change the status quo.

For Article 1, Protocol 1 – A1P1 in lawyers’ jargon – has caveats. The “general interest” of the state can be set successfully against the narrow interest of individuals if that is for the greater good.

That principle has been around longer than the European Convention. It was the principle that eventually forced successive 19th and early 20th-century UK Governments to acknowledge that the constant eviction, emigration and impoverishment of crofters and cotters in the Highlands and Islands could not be allowed to continue simply because landlords wanted ever bigger rents.

It was the principle behind the nationalisation of the railways and the coal mines when those were needed in the interests of the state and it was the principle that secured the establishment of the National Health Service when some doctors insisted that free care at the point of need would lead to their ruin.

In the 1940s it was applied when the rights of agricultural tenants were massively increased at the expense of landlords in order to boost food production for a starving country. Now in a nation that wants democratic principles and the practice of equality to be the bedrock of how we live with each other it needs to be applied again.

Carrick Castle and Coulson Mains may this week speak of the failure of what currently exists on the statute book. But the Scottish Parliament can turn those legalistic defeats into democratic victories by ensuring that the current Land Reform Bill when it is finally passed is strong enough to stand against the aggressive assertion of A1P1 by those who hold all the financial cards.

Instead it must champion – as it was elected to do – the needs and rights of ordinary people who are and must always be mightier than any lord, landowner, local authority (for let us not forget the bitter failure of the community buyout of Castle Toward from Argyll & Bute Council) business growth expert or Tory councillor.