Belatedly we must acknowledge that every so often the powers that be in Scotland do something entirely sensible.

So it was last week with the announcement by the Judicial Office (JO) that Sheriff Roderick John MacLeod QC had been installed as the tenth Chairman of the Scottish Land Court following the retirement of Lord McGhie, whose deputy he had been.

It means that, although statutorily obliged to have a Gaelic speaking member throughout its 102 year life, the court now has its first ever chairman who is a speaker of the language (and a native one at that) in the person of the new Lord Minginish.

But his credentials for the job are even stronger as the JO observed: "Although he himself was born and raised in Skye, Lord Minginish's parents were both from Harris and moved to Portnalong (on the Minginish Peninsula) in Skye in the 1920s as part of a land settlement scheme being carried out by the Board of Agriculture at that time. Lord Minginish is, therefore, the son of a crofting family and rooted in the history of land resettlement with which the Land Court had so much to do in the early years of its existence."

The court certainly can trace its roots to that time and indeed beyond, to a government inquiry into the suffering caused by the Highland Clearances.

In May 1883 Gladstone's government announced the establishment of the Napier Commission, "to inquire into the condition of the crofters and cottars in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland". Its first evidence gathering session was in a church in the township of Ollach, in the Braes area of Skye south of Portree.

Its first witness was Angus Stewart from another Braes township Peinachorrain. His first few words to Lord Napier said so much of the state of the people: "I want the assurance that I will not be evicted, for I cannot bear evidence to the distress of my people without bearing evidence to the oppression and high handedness of the landlord and his factor."

The year before the people of the Braes had resisted an attempt by their landlord Lord MacDonald to evict 12 crofters as part of a dispute over the grazing of the hill Ben Lee above Braes, which was due to be taken over by a farmer.

They refused to pay their rents and a crowd of 150 assaulted the sheriff's officer and burned the eviction notices he brought. However, he returned almost two weeks later with 50 policemen sent from Glasgow to arrest five of the crofters.

As they left Braes the party was attacked by a large crowd of men, women and children carrying sticks and throwing stones. The Battle of the Braes was the start of the "Crofters' War" of the 1880s, a wave of agitation across the Highlands and Islands demanding land reform.

The Napier Commission's report led to the crofting act of 1886. It granted crofters security of tenure and fair rents amongst other rights. It was the foundation of the crofting system that survives to this day.

The Small Landholders (Scotland) Act followed in 1911 and the land court was established the year after.

Two years ago Lord McGhie and the then Sheriff MacLeod, led a party of dignitaries to Braes to mark the anniversary of the court's founding and to acknowledge that it "stands on the shoulders" of the people of Braes.

The Scottish Land Court has never forgotten its roots and still enjoys a deservedly good reputation. It is widely trusted by the crofters and local communities in the Highlands and Islands to place at least as much value on their interests, as those of the rich and powerful when it comes to matters of the land.

It helps that although based in Edinburgh, it travels throughout Scotland, hearing cases in local venues which could be a sheriff court, but could equally be in a village hall still recovering from the Friday night dance or the previous evening's badminton session - not the most intimidating of judicial venues.

Although initially confined to the law relating to smallholdings, the land court's jurisdiction now includes not only landlord and tenant disputes in crofting and farming but such things as appeals against agricultural subsidy penalties, certain environmental matters and issues arising from community buyouts.

This is the legal world over which Lord Minginish, 61, will now preside and there is no more suitable a man for the job.

But his journey to the land court chair, had a few twists on the way from Portree High School and Edinburgh University.

Following a legal apprenticeship, he spent two years spent working in Gaelic broadcasting with the BBC. His face became well known to Gaels for a while on TV current affairs programmes.

However he returned to the law and practised first as a solicitor in Edinburgh before being admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in July 1994.

According to the JO "In October 2000 he was appointed a full-time Sheriff and in 2006 was seconded to the Scottish Land Court as its Deputy Chair, although he continued to sit as a sheriff at Edinburgh Sheriff Court when Land Court commitments permitted. In 2013 he was given the rank and dignity of Queen's Counsel."

And now he has the status of a Court of Session judge as Lord Minginsh, although the chances are that on Skye he will still be known mostly as 'Roddy John'.