The New Land Registration Act

The Land Registration Act 2002 introduces major changes to our conveyancing system on 13 October 2003. Many of the changes have practical consequences for landowners, including tenants.

The new Land Registration Act repeals and replaces all existing legislation on land registration. The purpose of the Act is to create a framework for electronic (instant) conveyancing which is expected to be introduced over the next few years.

To meet the objective of establishing a system of electronic dealing with land "the register should be a complete and accurate reflection of the state of the title of the land at any given time, so that it is possible to investigate title to the land on-line, with the absolute minimum of additional enquiries and inspections" (2001 Law Commission Report No 271).

This will go a small, but not a material, way towards achieving greater liquidity in property. The Act heralds a very significant degree of greater transparency in property dealings. That is likely to be the key consequence so far as you are concerned.



Any lease granted for more than 7 years, or any existing lease having more than 7 years to run on assignment, will be compulsorily registrable at HM Land Registry. In time, this will come down to leases of more than 3 years.

Leases taking effect more than 3 months ahead (even if they are for less than 7 years) must also be registered.

Freedom of information and the right to inspect the register and the documents referred to in it

Certain rights have been included in the Act to reflect the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. There will be an extended public right to inspect any document referred to in the register, including pre 13 October ones and including all registered leases and charges. These are not public documents at present.

The Land Registration Rules 2003, which have been published only very recently, say that a person can apply to designate a document as exempt from the public gaze if it contains prejudicial information. Provided the registrar is satisfied that the application in not groundless he is obliged to designate the document as exempt.

By definition prejudicial information means "information that, if disclosed to other persons, would or would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of the applicant" or "information that relates to an individual who is the applicant and, if disclosed to other persons, would or would be likely to...

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