Local authorities consider legal challenge to Land Registry proposals

–         Property sales transactions at risk of collapse
–         Delays inevitable due to local authority staff cuts
–         Quality of information will deteriorate
Local authority CEOs have mooted a possible legal challenge against central government following a meeting organised by the DCLG and the Land Registry. The discussion revealed absolutely no support for the proposals to centralise the local land charges register (LLCR) and that some local authority CEOs were more than strident in their opposition.
The Council of Property Search Organisation (CoPSO), which would seek a joint legal action with local authorities, has already gauged their opinion on the proposals to centralise the LLCR.

James Sherwood-Rogers, Chairman at CoPSO commented: “No local authority actively supports the proposals, which some actually view as dangerous. The government has now received all responses to the consultation and is formulating the official response, publication of which is expected in mid-May.” 

CoPSO has previously raised concerns about these proposals to Michael Fallon, the Minister of State for Business and Energy, on the basis that they will lead to delays in the conveyancing process and endanger the efficient operation of the property market.
Staff at local authorities will still need to input the local data, adding an additional layer to the process, for which they will not be remunerated, leading to staff cuts. Furthermore, the plan to digitise the LLCR back by 15 years only means that any encumbrances to land registered before that will not be immediately apparent. This will put listed buildings and protected trees at risk if the information is not immediately available.
One local authority said in response to a letter from CoPSO: “This Council raised the same concerns that you have outlined about listed buildings and protected trees in its response to the consultation proposals by the Land Registry. Sometimes local knowledge is necessary to support the LLC1 and CON29 processes even after records have been digitised and there is potential that this added value will be lost should the proposals for LLC1’s to be centralised become reality.”
A further local authority letter to CoPSO acknowledged: “The proposal would have the potential to prejudice the quality of information that would be forthcoming to prospective property searches.”

Another authority added: “We do not support the Land Registry’s proposals and see some quite fundamental problems with them.”

James Sherwood-Rogers, Chairman at CoPSO commented: “Although we suspect that the centralisation of the local land charges register is part of a pre-meditated process of fattening up the Land Registry before selling off and privatising it, the government must now listen to these local authorities who are at the coal-face of the process. If they all see problems now then surely it’s the coup de grâce for these flawed plans.”
Today's Conveyancer