Strengthening the foundations of land ownership

We are reviewing the legal framework that governs the registration of land in England and Wales. In a consultation opening today we ask how the Land Registration Act 2002 is working in practice and whether there are opportunities for the system to be clarified and updated.

Land registration underpins conveyancing by providing a single, central source of information on the ownership of land and by guaranteeing that what the land register says about ownership is true. 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.

Our project is examining a range of highly technical but important legal issues. One of the issues we consider is how the land registration system responds to instances of fraud and ask whether more can be done to help detect fraud and prevent it from happening in the first place. We are also seeking views on provisional proposals that will facilitate a more flexible approach to the development of electronic conveyancing than was envisaged by the 2002 Act.

Professor Nick Hopkins, Law Commissioner for property, family and trust law, said:

“Effective land registration is the foundation of conveyancing and essential to the successful operation of the property market in England and Wales.

“The landscape within which land registration operates has changed considerably since the 2002 Act came into force. Our review provides an opportunity for landowners, conveyancers, lenders and all those with an interest in the property market to tell us how the Act has been working in practice. It allows us to consider where we can bring greater certainty and security and what can be done to reinforce the role of the land register as a guarantee of title.”