Updating the Land Registration Act 2002

Current project status

  • Initiation: Could include discussing scope and terms of reference with lead Government Department
  • Pre-consultation: Could include approaching interest groups and specialists, producing scoping and issues papers, finalising terms of project
  • Consultation: Likely to include consultation events and paper, making provisional proposals for comment
  • Policy development: Will include analysis of consultation responses. Could include further issues papers and consultation on draft Bill
  • Reported: Usually recommendations for law reform but can be advice to government, scoping report or other recommendations

Our consultation period ran from 31 March 2016 to 30 June 2016. We are currently analysing the responses that we received to our consultation.

An effective land registration law is essential for everyone who owns land, whether the land is a home, a business or an investment. Land registration also has wider importance for business and the economy; a recent report from the World Bank suggests that a “well-designed land administration system … makes it possible for the property market to exist and to operate”.

With over 24 million registered titles ranging from residential flats to farms and shopping centres, any inefficiencies or uncertainties in the land registration system can have a significant impact on the property market in England and Wales.

Our project is designed to update the Land Registration Act 2002, the Act that governs registered land, in light of the experience of its operation since it came into force in October 2003. Our project is not designed to fundamentally reformulate the Act, but to improve specific aspects of its operation within the existing legal framework.

Our scoping work revealed a range of often highly technical issues that have important implications for landowners, conveyancers, lenders and all those with an interest in the property market. Dealings and disputes that engage the land registration regime can be complex and require expert advice. Uncertainty in the regime makes advising clients difficult, incentivises litigation, and increases costs for landowners. Additionally, the landscape within which land registration operates has changed considerably since the Act came into force. We have seen an increase of incidents of fraud relating to registered land, the legal consequences of which have been difficult to resolve, while technology has not developed in the way that was predicted at the time the legislation was drafted.

Our consultation paper considers a wide range of issues, including:

  • the interests that can be registered
  • how interests are protected on the register
  • the effect of registration
  • the extent of the guarantee of title that registration provides
  • the development of electronic conveyancing.

We also take the opportunity in our consultation paper to call for evidence on two other related areas of law that may be in need of reform, in order to see whether there may be sufficient support for a future law reform project on these topics: the law of mortgages, and (separately) the Landlord and Tenant (Covenants) Act 1995.

The consultation period closed on 30 June 2016.  Following an analysis of the responses to our consultation, we aim to publish our report and draft Bill in spring 2018.

Documents and downloads

Project details

Area of law

Property, family and trust law

Commissioner

Professor Nicholas Hopkins