As property solicitors, we rely on the Land Registry every single day. Whether it is to find out who owns a specific parcel of land, or to enable us to answer queries about rights and covenants affecting land, or to register our client as the owner of property – their input into property transactions is invaluable.
According to the Land Registry records, approximately 86% of the land in England and Wales is now registered, amounting to over 24 million registered titles. It is therefore easy to see how important it is that those records are accurate and easily available in order to ensure that the property market runs smoothly. Read our blog post ‘Land Registry – a plotted history’ here.
The registration of land is currently governed by the Land Registration Act 2002 (“LRA 2002”). The Government has recently consulted on a proposal for reform designed to reflect the current challenges affecting the Land Registry. The consultation looked at a number of issues including:
- The development of electronic conveyancing; and
- Whether there should be a limit on the Land Registry indemnity available in the case of errors;
The LRA 2002 provided the basis for an electronic conveyancing system whereby all parts of a conveyancing transaction take place electronically, and registration of an interest would take place at the same time as completion (ie. you become the registered proprietor of a property upon completion of the purchase, rather than completing the purchase and then waiting for the registration process to take place).
This sounds ideal, but practical measures need to be taken before this can be a reality and the reforms look at putting these measures in place. Whilst this doesn’t mean that you will be able to buy a property with the click of a button just yet, it does mean that steps are being taken to make this possible in the future.
Land Registry Indemnity
There are currently provisions in place which allow for a party to claim an indemnity from the Land Registry in the event that there is an error in registration which cannot be rectified. The Law Commission is consulting on whether or not there should be a cap on the amount which can be claimed from the Land Registry. The Law Commission have indicated that they are not convinced that this would be appropriate and that any such cap would need to be sufficiently high to ensure that most claims were still fully covered. As a buyer it is good to know that the ‘insurance’ provisions which are in place to help protect you from errors or fraud are likely to remain.
The results of the consultation are not due to be reported on until 2017 and so their impact will not be seen for some time. However, as the law and legal practitioners work to keep up with the changing property market, it is anticipated that the ways in which properties are bought and sold will be improved, making it easier and quicker for you to be registered as owner of the land that you have purchased, which in turn will speed up subsequent transactions.
 Land Registry, Annual Reports and Accounts 2014/2015 (July 2015) p.9
 Law Commission Consultation Paper No 227 (Summary), Updating the Land Registration Act 2002: A Consultation Paper – Summary p13.