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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/objections-and-disputes-a-guide-to-land-registry-practice-and-procedures/practice-guide-37-objections-and-disputes-a-guide-to-land-registry-practice-and-procedures
HM Land Registry may not be able to complete an application because someone has raised an objection. With a couple of exceptions, section 73(1) of the Land Registration Act 2002 gives anyone the right to object to an application.
An objection must be in made in writing, which includes email provided the email is sent to the email address set out in the notice. The objection must set out the grounds for the objection (rule 19 of the Land Registration Rules 2003). In some circumstances it may be possible to extend the period for responding/objecting to a notice, provided the application has not been completed. It is recommended that any request for an extension of time should be made before the expiry date of the notice.
If the registrar is satisfied that the objection is groundless, the application will not be affected (section 73(6) of the Land Registration Act 2002). Otherwise, the registrar must give notice of the objection to the applicant and the application cannot be completed until the objection has been disposed of (section 73(5) of the Land Registration Act 2002).
There are a number of ways in which the objection can be disposed of. The parties may reach an agreement as to how the application is to proceed, the applicant may withdraw their application or the objector may withdraw their objection. If that does not happen, the registrar has no option but to refer the matter to the Land Registration division of the Property Chamber, First-tier Tribunal (the tribunal).
On 1 July 2013 the tribunal replaced the role of the Adjudicator to HM Land Registry. One of its roles is to determine disputes arising from objections. The tribunal is totally independent of HM Land Registry. Once a matter has been referred to the tribunal, it will be governed by its own rules and procedure (Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Property Chamber) Rules 2013 and practice directions issued by the Senior President of Tribunals (30 July 2013). An overview of the tribunal’s procedures can be found on the GOV.UK website.
The tribunal will normally hold a hearing but does have the power to direct one of the parties to commence court proceedings instead (section 110(1) of the Land Registration Act 2002).
In certain circumstances, which are set out in the tribunal procedure rules, the tribunal can also determine a dispute without holding a hearing.
This practice guide covers the period from receipt of an objection to the referral of a dispute to the tribunal.
2. The objection
When we receive an objection we will first consider whether or not the objection has any chance of success. If it cannot possibly succeed, whether on the facts or the law, the objection will be considered groundless and will be cancelled, allowing the application to be completed. This is because an application is not affected by an objection that is groundless (section 73(6) of the Land Registration Act 2002).
Once we have established that an objection is not groundless, we will give details of the objection to the applicant. At the same time we will put certain options to both the applicant and the objector.
The four options open to the parties are:
- the applicant may withdraw the application
- the objector may withdraw the objection
- the parties may decide to negotiate to see whether they can reach an agreement as to how the objection is to be dealt with and how the application is to be completed
- one of the parties may decide to commence court proceedings – see Court proceedings
If there is no prospect of the parties reaching agreement, the matter must be referred to the tribunal.
3. An opportunity to negotiate
Many disputes are settled by agreement and HM Land Registry recognises this. But we must also remember our obligation to refer a matter to the tribunal if the parties are unable to resolve their dispute by agreement. Section 73(7) of the Land Registration Act 2002 says that HM Land Registry must refer any case where “it is not possible to dispose by agreement of an objection”.
We will, therefore, when we give notice of the objection also ask all parties to:
- state whether they wish to negotiate
- confirm that they consider that it may be possible to reach an agreement
All parties must give this confirmation; otherwise the case will be referred to the tribunal immediately. The cooperation of all parties is needed to achieve a settlement.
If all parties to the dispute agree that they would like to negotiate to try to reach agreement, a specified time, usually six months (which is considered to be a reasonable time for negotiations to be concluded), will be allowed for the negotiations.
During the six-month negotiation period we will contact the parties twice more. First after three months we will contact the parties to ask about progress in the negotiations. If, at that stage, it appears that there is no possibility of agreement being reached the matter will be referred to the tribunal at that point.
If negotiations are progressing and the possibility of agreement still exists we will not refer the matter to the tribunal but will contact the parties again after five months to check that negotiations are still being undertaken, and to remind the parties that the negotiation period will expire in one months’ time. At that time we will also send a draft case summary to the parties (see The case summary).
Any of the parties to a dispute can ask for the matter to be referred to the tribunal at any time.
Once the matter has been referred to the tribunal, the parties cannot withdraw their application/objection without the tribunal’s agreement. The tribunal has discretion to decide how any withdrawal should be dealt with.
4. The role of HM Land Registry
If we consider it to be appropriate, we will express our views on the relative merits of each party’s case or the parties can ask us to do so. We hope our experience and impartial position will prove to be helpful but the parties are free to accept, refute or ignore what we say.
But it is important to remember that the views expressed by any member of HM Land Registry will not be binding on the tribunal, should it eventually determine the matter. Nor will they be binding on a judge should one of the parties choose to commence court proceedings or do so following a direction from the tribunal. We will not usually send the tribunal copies of any such correspondence which contains such views. It will only be available to the courts if it is produced in evidence at the hearing. There are special rules regarding evidence that apply in the courts and at hearings before the tribunal. The parties will need to consider these rules should the matter reach that stage.
It is also important that each party is aware of all the other parties’ arguments and evidence. As a result we cannot enter into any confidential discussions. Any communications or supporting documents sent to HM Land Registry are likely to be disclosed to the other parties even if marked ‘confidential’. Where it is apparent that a party is unaware of this policy and has supplied a communication or supporting document ‘in confidence’, that party will be given an opportunity to withdraw it but if they do not do so, disclosure may take place irrespective of any confidential marking. It is anticipated that most objectors will be aware of our policy on information supplied in confidence as it is set out in the explanatory notes that accompany most HM Land Registry notices.
5. The case summary
If a dispute is referred to the tribunal it will be referred by way of a formal notice accompanied by a case summary. The purpose of the case summary is to give the tribunal brief details of the matter being referred, to enable it to decide two things. First, to decide who should be named as the applicant and who the respondent in the proceedings before the tribunal and, secondly to decide whether the case should be heard by the tribunal, or whether one of the parties (usually the party named as the applicant in the tribunal proceedings) should be directed to start court proceedings. Under the tribunal procedure rules, which set out the procedures that will apply once the matter has been referred, the parties may be given the opportunity to make representations to the tribunal should it consider that it would be appropriate to direct one of the parties to start court proceedings.
The case summary will incorporate (rule 3(2) of the Referral to the Tribunal Procedure rules) the:
- names and addresses of the parties
- details of any legal or other representatives
- summary of the core facts
- details of the application
- details of the objection
- a list of any copy documents attached
- anything else the registrar considers to be appropriate
An example of a case summary is set out in the Appendix.
The parties will also be asked to provide a postal address within England and Wales for the purpose of communicating with the tribunal. This is requested as the parties may have given HM Land Registry an address outside the jurisdiction. (This is permitted by rule 198 of the Land Registration Rules 2003.) After it has been referred to the tribunal, further addresses may be provided in accordance with the tribunal procedure rules.
The registrar will send a copy of the case summary to the parties who will be given the opportunity to comment on it should they wish to do so (rule 3(1)(c) of the referral to the Land Registration division of the Property Chamber, First-tier Tribunal rules). The case summary will not set out the parties’ arguments or details of the evidence produced, but will be a brief summary of the relevant facts. The opportunity to comment will enable any factual errors to be corrected.
The registrar will consider any comments made and will make whatever amendments to the case summary they consider appropriate.
At the appropriate time, either:
(i) after the expiry of the six month negotiation period without agreement being reached, or
(ii) after three months of the negotiation period has elapsed and it is obvious that agreement will not be reached, or
(iii) if one of the parties requests that the matter is referred to the tribunal the registrar will then send a formal notice to the tribunal informing it that this case has been referred. The notice will be accompanied by the case summary (incorporating any amendments made by the registrar) and copies of any documents listed in the case summary. The parties will also be sent a formal notice informing them that the case has been referred, together with a copy of the case summary as sent to the tribunal. The parties will not receive copies of the documents as they will already have the originals or copies on their files.
6. Court proceedings
One of the parties may want to start court proceedings. How will this tie in with these procedures?
As we have pointed out, HM Land Registry has no option but to refer a dispute arising out of an objection to the tribunal. As soon as we discover that one of the parties has commenced court proceedings, we will treat the case as a matter which cannot be resolved by agreement and it will be formally referred to the tribunal.
It is likely that the tribunal will adjourn the proceedings to await the outcome of the court proceedings.
This subject is covered by practice guide 38: costs in disputed applications.
8. Errors in the register
A dispute may arise when an application is made to correct an error on the register and someone lodges an objection. If this has happened, the procedures set out in this guide still apply. However, the parties may be entitled to claim compensation under the Land Registration Act 2002. This subject is covered by our practice guide 39: rectification and indemnity. If you think this may apply to you, please contact us to request a copy. Compensation may cover costs and expenses, but you will need to consider whether to obtain consent from the registrar before incurring such costs or expenses. Practice guide 38: costs in disputed applications explains the procedure.
9. After the tribunal’s decision
The tribunal’s decision, whether or not following a hearing, will be set out in a formal order. Sometimes this will direct HM Land Registry to take a specified action, in which case it will serve a copy of the order on HM Land Registry. Otherwise, the parties should send a copy of the order to HM Land Registry, and we will inform you how we propose dealing with the application and the objection in the light of the order.
HM Land Registry Case Summary
This case summary accompanies a notice to the Land Registration division of the Property Chamber, First-tier Tribunal under rule 5 of the Land Registration (Referral to the Adjudicator to HM Land Registry) Rules 2003.
|Title number(s):||AB12345 and AB7890|
|Property:||123 and 125 Steep Hill, New Town, Midshire|
|Applicant:||Anne Paula Plicant|
|Applicant’s address:||123 Steep Hill, New Town, Midshire|
|Applicant’s legal or other representative:||Hollys, 789 High Street, Down Town, Midshire. Ref:P/AD/12|
|Objector:||Oliver Brian Jector|
|Objector’s address:||125 Steep Hill, New Town, Midshire|
|Objector’s legal or other representative:||Ivys, 321 Lower Road, Uptown, Midshire. Ref:JEC/XZ/541|
|Summary of core facts:||The applicant is the registered proprietor of title number AB12345. By a conveyance dated 24 June 1999 between (1) Daisy May Jones and (2) the applicant, the applicant acquired the land comprised in a conveyance dated 1 January 1956 between (1) Alice Eleanor Thomas and (2) John Mark Smith. This land was registered on 1 July 1999 and was allocated title number AB12345. The land edged red on the attached plan was not included in the title plan and is currently registered under title number AB7890. The objector is the registered proprietor of title number AB7890.|
|Details of application:||The applicant has applied for alteration of the registers of title number AB12345 and title number AB7890 under paragraph 5 of Schedule 4 to the Land Registration Act 2002. She claims that the title plan of title number AB12345 should include the land edged red, because it was part of the land acquired by her in 1999.|
|Details of objection:||Notice of the application was served on the objector as the registered proprietor of title number AB7890. The objector has objected to the alteration of the two title numbers on the ground that he has occupied the land edged red as part of his garden for the past 15 years.|
|Anything else that the registrar considers to be appropriate:||None|
|Copy documents accompanying case summary:||1: application in form AP1 dated 13 October 2003 2: letter from Hollys to HM Land Registry dated 13 October 2003 3: title plans of title numbers AB12345 and AB7890 4: plan showing the land edged red 5: notice served on the objector dated 20 October 2003 6: letter from the objector to HM Land Registry dated 6 November 2003 7: conveyance dated 1 January 1956 8: conveyance dated 24 June 1999|
|Signed:||Land Registrar for and on behalf of the Chief Land Registrar. Dated:|
11. Things to remember
We provide only factual information and impartial advice about our procedures. Read more about the advice we give.