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Changes to how we handle disputed applications

To avoid long running, unresolved disputes, we are changing the way we handle disputed applications.

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From January 2016, we will allow six months for a disputed application to be resolved, before we refer it to the First-tier Tribunal. We currently allow an unspecified amount of time.

Under the Land Registration Act 2002 (LRA 2002), if we receive a justifiable objection, we must give notice of the objection to the applicant.

If a dispute arises as a result of an objection and an agreement cannot be reached, we must refer it to the First-tier Tribunal.

The process by which Land Registry deals with disputed applications prior to their referral to the Land Registration division of the Property Chamber, First-tier Tribunal (the Tribunal) has been the subject of an internal review and as a result some changes will be introduced in January 2016.

The main changes are as follows:

The period of time prior to referral to the Tribunal afforded for negotiations to see if agreement can be reached between the parties to a disputed application is to be limited to six months. Land Registry lawyers will be able to exercise a discretion to extend this period in exceptional, unavoidable circumstances when cogent reasons have been given for the need for additional time.

During that six month period Land Registry will only contact the parties twice: when three months of the six month period has elapsed, and after five months. Land Registry will ask if negotiations are continuing. If one, or all of the parties say they are not, or do not reply, the dispute will then be referred to the Tribunal.

Additionally at the five month stage a draft case summary will be sent to the parties for comment in advance of the referral to the Tribunal being made once the six month period has come to an end.

Objections and disputes: Land Registry practice and procedures, practice guide 37 will be updated.

Background

Under the Land Registration Act 2002 (LRA 2002) Land Registry cannot determine an application to which an objection is received, assuming Land Registry is satisfied the objection is not groundless. Notice of the objection must be given to the applicant. Land Registry is required to refer any dispute which arises as a result of an objection being made in relation to an application (unless found to be groundless) to the Tribunal if it is not possible to dispose of the objection by agreement.

Land Registry will defer making the referral to the Tribunal in order to see whether it is possible for the parties to dispose of the objection by agreement, and a period for negotiations is afforded for this purpose. That period is now to be set at six months rather than being more open ended as now. It is felt that a long running unresolved dispute is in no one’s best interest.

Section 73 LRA 2002 provides:

(1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3), anyone may object to an application to the registrar.

(2) In the case of an application under section 18, only the person who lodged the caution to which the application relates, or such other person as rules may provide, may object.

(3) In the case of an application under section 36, only the person shown in the register as the beneficiary of the notice to which the application relates, or such other person as rules may provide, may object.

(4) The right to object under this section is subject to rules.

(5) Where an objection is made under this section, the registrar: (a) must give notice of the objection to the applicant, and (b) may not determine the application until the objection has been disposed of.

(6) Subsection (5) does not apply if the objection is one which the registrar is satisfied is groundless.

(7) If it is not possible to dispose by agreement of an objection to which subsection (5) applies, the registrar must refer the matter to the [Tribunal].

(8) Rules may make provision about references under subsection (7).

Published 16 December 2015