The last time the system of land registration in Scotland was fundamentally changed was in 1979. After 1979 title to land would be based on areas plotted on the Ordnance Survey map in the form of a Land Certificate. The Certificate would be issued by the Land Register following completion of a sale transaction and the title would be guaranteed by the Government.
Gradually as properties have been sold over the years many have moved on to the map based system. However, much land and property has not changed hands since 1979 and the Government wishes to update the system and also deal with perceived discrepancies with general property law.
The Land Register etc. (Scotland) Act 2012 will be brought into effect in late Autumn 2014 and the following changes are amongst many anticipated:-
- End of the Land Register "Midas?touch" - registration on its own will not be enough - the validity of?a registered title will be governed by property law rules;
- All manifest inaccuracies must be rectified;
- Prescription will run on all land register?titles - this means that a title must be held for 10 years to be completely unchallengeable;
- The former Government guarantee of title?will only apply to applicants to the Register and not to third parties although there will?be protection for third parties acting in good faith relying on the Register;
- All transfers of property and security transactions will trigger registration in the?Land Register (this has been restricted till now to transfers for value); and
- Provision for electronic conveyancing.
The last item is the most interesting. The intention is to allow for electronic documents to have the equivalent status of paper documents and for property documents to be negotiated, signed and registered electronically. How this will work in practice remains to be seen. The Land Register has previously tried to introduce electronic conveyancing on a limited extent but this has never taken off ? are people still addicted to paper? ?Changing from signature of a paper document to electronic authentication of one is a big step culturally. Will we look back in a few years and think nothing of it? The answer is probably ?yes?? - but only if the technicalities can be smoothed out.
If you?d like legal advice on land registration in Scotland from lawyers who specialise in property law and conveyancing ? get in touch with one of our?team.