Dispute Process at Land Registry

Many of you will be familiar with lodging applications at Land Registry but I want to explain what happens if an objection is received to an application.

For example Mr A claims that he has a right of way over a footpath which crossed Mr B’s garden.  He lodges an application and Land Registry notifies Mr B by way of notice.  Mr B objects stating that there is no such right of way.  The application cannot be completed where there is a valid objection and the matter must be resolved through negotiation or referred to the Property Chamber Land Registration First tier Tribunal (the Tribunal).

It could be that Miss X owns a property as a sole proprietor and Mr Y lives with her at that property for a period of 3 years.  After the breakdown of their relationship Mr Y leaves the property but claims he is entitled to a constructive trust as Miss X agreed he would have an interest in the property and he had made improvements to the property and contributed to the mortgage.  Mr Y lodges an application to register his interest but Miss X objects to the application claiming that she made all payments on the property and that it was never intended that Mr Y would have an interest in the property.

Any person can object to an application providing they have grounds showing why the application should not proceed unless it is to cancel a caution against first registration or to cancel a unilateral notice.  Only the person who lodged the caution or current cautioner, or the person who is the beneficiary or entitled to the benefit of the unilateral notice can object to its removal.

You will need to lodge your application in writing explaining why you object, with any evidence, if possible.  This should be in writing or by e-mail to the address or e-mail on the notice.

On receipt of an objection Land Registry must decide whether or not the objection is groundless. We will look at whether the objector has an argument to challenge the applicant’s claim but we will not decide who has the stronger case.

Each party is entitled to see copies of any documents and correspondence lodged with us, so please don’t lodge anything confidential.

Sometimes the application will be about historical rights such as mines and minerals, chancel repair or manorial rights.  These issues can be complex but any objections are dealt with in the same way and cannot merely be on the grounds that the proprietors were unaware of the historical rights or that there are no mines or minerals beneath the property.

Some objections are deemed groundless and are cancelled and the original application processed.  This will be because there is no basis for the objection. For example, in the case of the charging order above, the objector, Miss X, claims that a payment resolution has been agreed but this does not challenge the existence of the charging order and the objection would be groundless.

My role as an Objections Officer is to assist the lawyers and Land Registrar through the process of receipt of the objection to a final resolution.  If the parties indicate they wish to negotiate, a period of six months is given during which time Land Registry must remain impartial. Although we can offer guidance, we cannot offer legal advice. It is important if your clients wish to negotiate, that the parties do so quickly as it will normally be referred to the tribunal after six months.

I often deal with complex legal issues and take phone calls from distressed parties as the issues can be contentious.  I try to explain the dispute process and keep the negotiations going. Following a recent review, the process has now been streamlined to hopefully speed up the negotiation process by simplifying Land Registry correspondence and allowing parties to negotiate without correspondence from us.

After six months, if no agreement has been reached or if any party indicates they do not wish to negotiate, a draft case summary is prepared as we have a duty to refer the matter to the Tribunal.  This is a summary of the arguments from both parties and forms the basis of the Tribunal’s initial enquiries.

The Tribunal is totally independent of Land Registry. Importantly, once the dispute has been referred to the Tribunal, no one can withdraw without their agreement.  It is also worth noting that Land Registry cannot insist upon parties lodging copies of evidence they rely on but they may be asked to produce all evidence during the Tribunal process.

Thankfully most disputes are resolved through negotiation without the need for referral to the Tribunal.

For further information, please see:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/objections-and-disputes-a-guide-to-land-registry-practice-and-procedures

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/costs

https://www.gov.uk/courts-tribunals/first-tier-tribunal-property-chamber

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