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Land Registration Rules 2003

The Land Registration Act 2002 repealed and replaced the Land Registration Act 1925, which until then governed land registration. The Land Registration Rules 2003 are the statutory instrument, implementing the Land Registration Act 2002, pursuant to s. 127 of the Act, which enables the Secretary of State to make land registration rules. The Land Registration Rules 2003 deal with the administrative side of registering titles to land.

1. Why were they introduced? (Political/Sociological Context)

From 1990, the land register became publicly accessible, so it was no longer something which was a concern only to the legal professionals and conveyancers, but became a valuable public resource. Therefore, it became necessary to set out rules that regulate the land register.

The majority of titles before the Land Registration Act 2002 was introduced, were registered titles. Therefore, titles registration became more commonplace than it used to be and it was expected that holders of unregistered titles would be required to take steps to ensure that unregistered titles were brought to the register. At the same time though, there was a widespread public concern that making everyone register their titles to land was unnecessary bureaucracy, given the complexity of the process, so it was felt that clear and simple rules on how the registration process would be dealt with was needed.

In the years leading up to the adoption of the Land Registration Act 2002, the Law Commission and the Land Registry managed to persuade the property industry and the legal practitioners of the viability of their plan to introduce e-conveyancing. In light of the introduction of e-conveyancing, the public required a less stressful system of land registration than the existing system prior to the introduction of the Act.

2. What was the aim of the Rules? (Legal Context)

The purpose of the Rules was to implement roughly 100 provisions of the Land Registration Act 2002, 3 provisions of the Charities Act 1993, 2 provisions of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 and 1 provision of the Family Law Act 1996.

The Rules make provisions in regards to the contents and arrangement of the land register, the contents of the index to be kept under s. 68 Land Registration Act 2002, the documents that need to be supplied as part of an application for registration, the rules on first registration, the rules on the applications of agreed notices, the procedure for determination of boundaries, title upgrades, alterations and corrections and information requirements.

3. What main changes did they make to the law?

The Rules introduced a number of provision in relation to the digitisation of the process of registering land. Rr. 15 and 132 enable applicants to deliver their applications for registration through electronic means. R. 115 allows the delivery of a notice of a discharge to a registered charge to the registrar in electronic form and r. 142 allows the launching of an enquiry as to the discharge of a charge by electronic means.  R. 132 enables the Land Registry to issue any certificates and other results of applications and searches through electronic means, with these certificates and other documents having the same effect as if they were issued in paper form.

Rr. 28 and 57 in line with s. 71 Land Registration Act 2002 imposed a duty on those applying for first registration to inform the registrar of any overriding interests of which they know.

Schedule 1 of the 2002 Act lists certain interests that override first registration. They will bind the estate although not entered on the register. The list includes leases for no more than 7 years, interests of persons in occupation, legal easements and profits and a number of legal and statutory rights. The first of these interests is not to be entered on the register. The others, though will be entered on the register if the registry is aware of them. R. 28 imposes a duty on the applicant to inform the registry of any such interests they are aware of. Thus, the rules created a safety net to preserve those interests which bind the unregistered estate but are not identified or recorded upon first registration.

The obligation of first registration currently arises where a transfer is made for value, as a gift, on a court order, by assent, by trustees dividing the trust land between the beneficiaries of the trust or to a newly appointed trustee. The gradual extension of compulsory registration to transfers of land within a trust meant that such land became far more likely to come onto the register. Where the obligation to register arises on the transfer or grant of an estate, it is the new owner who must make the application. Where the triggering event for the registration is the grant of a mortgage, r. 21 places an obligation on the mortgagor to make the application and in cases where they fail to do so, the obligation is transferred on the mortgagee. 


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