Precautions when opening a new land registry file

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1. Are there any special precautions at the land registry services in order to avoid errors when opening a new file?

The registrar is obliged to keep an index so it can be ascertained in relation to any parcel of land whether any registered estate affects the land, and if so how that registered estate is identified, or whether the land is affected by a caution against first registration (section 68, Land Registration Act 2002).

The index takes the form of a map, and must also show any pending applications for first registration (rule 10, Land Registration Rules 2003). The caseworker will compare the land to be registered with the registrations shown in the index map to ensure the land is not already registered, or there are no overlaps.

The conveyance should, in any case, have carried out a search of the Index Map to ensure it was not already registered while carrying out their investigation of title before proceeding with the purchase.

2. If an error occurs and a land registry file describes the same immovable for a second time, what is legally determined to do?

Overlaps do occur sometimes, or occasionally the wrong plot is registered. HM Land Registry operates on the basis of general boundaries rather than determined boundaries. This means that the boundaries shown on the title plan are indicative only. If the overlap is discovered when an application for first registration is made, we will ask the applicant if they want to make and application for alteration, to take the land out of a title that is already registered so it can be included in their new title. We will not automatically take out such an application ourselves unless there is no doubt that the correction of a mistake is in the interest of the proprietor of the existing title (for example, the proprietor bought and applied to register 45 Smith Street, but we registered 47 Smith Street instead).

An application for alteration can be made under section 65 and Schedule 4 of the Land Registration Act 2002, and rules 126 to 130 of the Land Registration Rules 2003.
If an application for alteration is made, we will first arrange a survey to see who is in occupation of the land, before serving notice on the registered proprietor of the land that is already registered, explaining the situation. The registered proprietor can object. We will make a full investigation and inform the parties of our findings. If they cannot agree to a settlement, the dispute must be referred to court (section 73 Land Registration Act 2002).

The same applies if HM Land Registry discovers a mapping error when there is no application relating to the land. We will first investigate the error, and if we decide further action is justified, arrange a survey and then proceed as above, serving notice on all affected parties (section 128 Land Registration Act 2002).

Is there a different procedure depending on whether the new file repeats totally a previous file or only a part of a previous file?

No, the procedure will be the same.

3. Once the error is identified what happens to the rights and the charges registered in both files? And what about subsequent entries?

Any affected party will be served with notice and will have the opportunity to object to the application. If the parties cannot come to an agreement, the dispute must be referred to court as mentioned above.

4. Is there any internal (intra-system) land registry procedure to solve this sort of problem or does it require judicial intervention?

There is an initial procedure, but if the parties cannot come to an agreement, the dispute must be referred to court (section 73(7) Land Registration Act 2002). The court will deal with such referrals in accordance with the Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Property Chamber) Rules 2013.

Links

How we deal with rectifications of the register:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rectification-and-indemnity

How we deal with disputes – they are often associated:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/objections-and-disputes-a-guide-to-land-registry-practice-and-procedures