Law Society warns against Land Registry privatisation

Law Society warns against Land Registry privatisation

The Law Society has issued a warning that the government’s proposals for the Land Registry could undermine the integrity of the register.

Responding to the government’s consultation on the introduction of a Land Registry service delivery company, the Society said that the importance of the integrity of the register should not be underestimated, and that granting and validating legal title must be carried out with impartiality.

Jonathan Smithers, Law Society deputy vice-president and Conveyancing and Land Law Committee chair, said:

“Our members are one of Land Registry’s main customer groups and solicitors are broadly satisfied with the service they currently receive.

 

“The Law Society does not have a political leaning towards any particular business model, but the Land Registry is part of the UK’s critical national infrastructure and we are concerned that the proposals for Land Registry could undermine the Register’s integrity and introduce conflicts of interest with potentially adverse economic results.”

Whilst it acknowledges that organisations can benefit from reviewing the services they provide, the Law Society raised several concerns, including:

  • the rationale for splitting policy making and delivery is not explained. Such a split risks creating increased layers of operation, making the process more complex and increasing costs,
  • concerns about the ability of the Office of the Chief Land Registrar to regulate and manage a service delivery company effectively, particularly given government’s previous attempts at managing external agencies, and
  • concerns that non-registration services could become the most important part of the business to shareholders of a privatised entity, particularly if there are no statutory control on prices, resulting in resources being diverted away from core registration services,

and it called on the government to be more specific about the benefits for the public of its proposals, particularly in view of the inherent risks.

The full consultation response can be found on the Law Society’s web site at http://bit.ly/1jkFylz

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