Law Commission recommends reform of land registration system

Creating a more effective land registration system is firmly on the Law Commission’s agenda.

In a project designed to update the Land Registration Act 2002 – which governs registered land – the Law Commission first published a consultation paper on 31 March 2016; and has now published its final report which is awaiting a response from government.

The main thrust of the recommendations to government is to prompt technical reforms to iron out kinks in the law, help prevent fraud and make conveyancing faster, easier and cheaper.

Recommendations that tackle fraud include: enabling HM Land Registry to set out the reasonable steps conveyancers must undertake to verify the identity of their clients, to help root out fraudsters; and imposing a duty of care on conveyancers with respect to identity checks, based on the directions issued by HM Land Registry.

Other recommendations include: preventing the register from being changed once a mistake has been on the register for 10 years, to make the register more accurate and final; requiring evidence of interests that people want to protect with a unilateral notice at an earlier stage, preventing disputes at the Tribunal; and beefing up the powers of the Land Registration Division of the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) – including an express statutory power to determine where a boundary lies, so that parties do not have to re-litigate the same issue.

Alongside the recommendations, the Law Commission has also produced a draft Bill to implement the reforms.

The Law Commission said: “In recent years, the landscape in which land registration operates has changed. There has been an increase of incidents of fraud relating to registered land, the legal consequences of which have been difficult to resolve. And technology has not developed in the way that was predicted at the time the legislation was drafted. With over 25 million registered titles in England and Wales – ranging from residential flats to farms and shopping centres – any inefficiencies or uncertainties in the land registration system can also have a significant impact on the property market, and the wider economy.”

The Law Commission’s report can be seen here

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