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Land Registry sets ‘truth test’ to tackle delays

By Monidipa Fouzder >>

(4 November 2022)

Conveyancers could be required to confirm that information contained in applications to HM Land Registry are true under the agency’s latest initiative to tackle lengthy delays. The Law Society said it is working with Land Registry to ensure the process does not impose further risks on solicitors. 

Land Registry revealed in a blog that it is piloting a system under which conveyancers submit confirmation of the data in their applications. This approach to ‘improving trust in applications’ mirrors procedures adopted in land registries around the world, the agency told the Gazette.

‘It will involve a regulated legal professional confirming that the facts stated in the application are true, to the best of their information and belief,’ it said in a statement.

‘For example, we will be asking them to confirm the transfer or mortgage has been executed and the transaction completed. HMLR will still make the decision as to whether guaranteed title should be registered. That is our responsibility. We will just ask for the facts about the transaction. The legal professional will know the facts themselves or can find out from others in their firm.’

While legal professionals are already responsible for establishing the veracity of data when submitting applications, ‘this approach is about ensuring a clean handover of the process to HMLR that feeds into our digital, automated systems’, the registry said. ‘It enables us to be as confident in our understanding of what has happened as the conveyancer (who has just overseen completion) is.’

Land Registry is talking to four firms which submit hundreds of thousands of applications every year to test the new process.

The agency stressed it is not changing its decision-making approach. ‘Before changing the ownership of a property, for example, we need to know that certain things are true and have happened. In many cases it is then a straightforward and formulaic process of changing the register. Those decisions are therefore capable of being codified, rather than being checked and processed by people, so long as we can trust the truth of the facts we are told.’

Currently, one in five applications requires the agency to raise a requisition. ‘Not every issue is a result of poor quality applications. There are sometimes some perfectly legitimate technical queries that need to be sorted out. However there is much we and our customers can do to reduce basic errors and omissions and improve the trust at the handover point from conveyancer to HMLR.’

Law Society president Lubna Shuja said: ‘We have been working with Land Registry and others to ensure that no further risk will be assumed by conveyancing solicitors as part of the drive to automation. We are keen to see the results of the pilot and assess how the plans work in practice.’

(Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette)