Practice Guide 37 – Objections and disputes – A guide to Land Registry practice and procedures
Updated: July 2011
This edition of the guide replaces the March 2007 edition. The guide has been amended as a result of the Adjudicator to HM Land Registry (Practice and Procedure) (Amendment) Rules 2008.
Scope of this guide
This guide deals with situations where a party has objected to a registration or is involved in a dispute. It covers the roles of Land Registry, of the Adjudicator to HM Land Registry and of the court. The guide is aimed at conveyancers and you should interpret references to ‘you’ accordingly.
1 Abbreviations and terms used
In this guide:
‘LRA 1925’ means the Land Registration Act 1925, as amended
‘LRA 2002’ means the Land Registration Act 2002
‘LRR 2003’ means the Land Registration Rules 2003
‘the referral to the adjudicator rules’ means the Land Registration (Referral to the Adjudicator to HM Land Registry) Rules 2003
‘the adjudicator rules’ means the Adjudicator to Her Majesty’s Land Registry (Practice and Procedure) Rules 2003 as amended by the Adjudicator to HM Land Registry (Practice and Procedure) (Amendment) Rules 2008
‘the adjudicator’ means the Adjudicator to HM Land Registry.
Land Registry may not be able to complete an application because someone has raised an objection. With a couple of exceptions, s.73(1), LRA 2002 gives anyone the right to object to an application. An objection must be in made in writing and must set out the grounds for the objection (r.19, LRR 2003).
If the registrar is satisfied that the objection is groundless, the application will not be affected (s.73(6), LRA 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 (s.73(5), LRA 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. Alternatively, one party or another may withdraw their application or objection. If that does not happen, the registrar has no option but to refer the matter to the adjudicator.
This was a new post created by the LRA 2002 and one of the roles of the adjudicator is to determine disputes arising from objections. The adjudicator is appointed by the Lord Chancellor and is totally independent of Land Registry. Once a matter has been referred to the adjudicator, it will be governed by the adjudicator’s own rules and procedures.
The adjudicator will normally hold a hearing, but does have the power to direct one of the parties to commence court proceedings instead (s.110(1), LRA 2002).
In certain circumstances, which are set out in the adjudicator rules, the adjudicator 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 adjudicator.
3 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 cancelled. This is because an application is not affected by an objection that is groundless (s.73(6), LRA 2002).
Once we have established that an objection is not groundless, we will give details of the objection to the applicant.
There are then five options open to the parties.
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 section 7 Court proceedings.
If there is no prospect of the parties reaching agreement, the matter must be referred to the adjudicator.
4 An opportunity to negotiate
The vast majority of disputes are settled by agreement, and Land Registry recognises this. But we must also remember our obligation to refer a matter to the adjudicator if the parties are unable to resolve their dispute by agreement. S.73(7), LRA 2002 says that Land Registry must refer any case where ‘it is not possible to dispose by agreement of an objection’.
We will, therefore, ask all parties to complete and return a simple form if they wish to be given time to negotiate. We will also check on the progress of negotiations at regular intervals to ensure that they are still active. The parties will have to produce evidence of this, otherwise we will be obliged to proceed on the basis that it is not possible for the parties to reach agreement and we will have no option but to refer the matter to the adjudicator immediately.
The initial form will require the parties to:
state that 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 adjudicator immediately. The cooperation of all parties is needed to achieve a settlement.
The parties will be asked to complete further forms at regular intervals, to ensure that all parties still consider that it is possible to reach an agreement. They will also be asked to produce evidence to support these statements, such as details of any proposals made to settle and the response to those proposals, including copies of any relevant correspondence.
These forms and the supporting evidence are designed to enable the registrar to decide whether the case must be referred to the adjudicator.
If all parties return the forms confirming that they still wish to negotiate and that they consider that it is still possible to reach an agreement then, provided we have seen evidence to support those statements, the parties will be allowed to continue with their negotiations. As time progresses, we would expect to see evidence that the negotiations are making progress. Without that evidence, we will be unable to delay the referral to the adjudicator, bearing in mind the obligations of Land Registry under s.73(7), LRA 2002.
Notwithstanding the above any of the parties to a dispute can ask for the matter to be referred to the adjudicator at any time.
Once the matter has been referred to the adjudicator, the parties cannot withdraw their application/objection without the agreement of the adjudicator who has discretion to decide how any withdrawal should be dealt with.
5 The role of Land Registry
If we consider it to be appropriate, we will express our views on the relative merits of each party’s case when we send out the first form for completion or at any other appropriate time. We hope that our experience and impartial position will prove to be helpful, but the parties are free to accept, refute or ignore what we say.
Another important point to remember is that the views expressed by any member of Land Registry will not be binding upon the adjudicator, should the adjudicator eventually determine the matter. Nor will they be binding upon a judge should one of the parties choose to commence court proceedings or do so following a direction from the adjudicator. Land Registry will not usually send the adjudicator copies of any such correspondence. It will only be available to the adjudicator or 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 adjudicator, and which the parties will need to consider should the matter reach that stage.
It is important that each party is aware of all the other parties’ arguments and evidence. As a result, Land Registry cannot enter into any confidential discussions. Any communications or supporting documents may 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’, Land Registry will return the communication or document and invite re-lodgement on a non-confidential basis.
Sometimes the parties to a dispute find it difficult to talk directly to each other, but they still consider that an agreement might just be possible, and that it will be preferable to a judicial hearing. Land Registry is always willing to play a role in the negotiations, if this will assist. We will not take sides, and we will not make any judgement or decision on the truthfulness of the evidence that has been put forward; that is a matter for the adjudicator or the courts to decide. However, the parties should appreciate that we will have our own views on the arguments, which may mean that we agree with one party’s arguments rather than another.
6 The case summary
There will be some cases where it is not possible for the parties to reach agreement. These cases must be referred to the adjudicator, who will decide whether to hear the matter or direct one of the parties to commence court proceedings.
Land Registry will refer these cases by way of a formal notice accompanied by a case summary. The purpose of the case summary is to give the adjudicator brief details of the matter being referred, to enable the adjudicator to decide who should be named as the applicant and who the respondent in the proceedings, and to enable the adjudicator to make an initial decision whether to hear the case, or to direct one of the parties to start court proceedings. Under the adjudicator 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 adjudicator should the adjudicator consider that it would be appropriate to direct one of the parties to start court proceedings.
The case summary will incorporate (r.3(2) of the referral to the adjudicator 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 section 12 Appendix.
The parties will also be asked to provide a postal address within England and Wales for the purpose of communicating with the adjudicator’s office. This is requested as the parties may have given Land Registry an address outside the jurisdiction. (This is permitted by r.198, LRR 2003.) After it has been referred to the adjudicator, further addresses may be provided in accordance with the adjudicator’s own practice and procedure rules.
The parties will be told when the registrar intends to refer the case to the adjudicator. At that stage they will be given a copy of the case summary, and given the opportunity to comment on it should they wish to do so (r.3(1)(c) of the referral to the adjudicator rules). The case summary will not set out the parties’ arguments or details of the evidence produced to date, but will be a brief summary of the relevant facts. The opportunity to comment will enable any factual errors to be corrected before the summary is sent to the adjudicator.
The registrar will consider any comments made and will make whatever amendments to the case summary the registrar considers to be appropriate. The registrar will then send a formal notice to the adjudicator informing the adjudicator 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 adjudicator. The parties will not receive copies of the documents as they will already have the originals or copies on their files.
7 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, Land Registry has no option but to refer a dispute arising out of an objection to the adjudicator. 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. We will complete the case summary and formally refer the matter to the adjudicator.
It is likely that the adjudicator will adjourn the proceedings to await the outcome of the court proceedings.
This subject is covered by Practice Guide 38 – Costs. You can obtain a copy from Customer Support (see Contact details) or you can download it in English and Welsh from our website.
9 Errors on 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 LRA 2002. This subject is covered by our Practice Guide 39 – Rectification and indemnity. If you think that 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 explains the procedure.
10 After the adjudicator’s decision
The adjudicator’s decision, whether or not following a hearing, will be set out in a formal order. Sometimes this will direct Land Registry to take a specified action, in which case the adjudicator will serve a copy of the order on Land Registry. Otherwise, the parties should send a copy of the order to Land Registry, and we will inform you how we propose dealing with the application and the objection in the light of the adjudicator’s order.
11 Enquiries and comments
If you have a particular concern that is not covered by this guide, please contact Land Registry in advance of the transaction – see Contact details. If you have any comments or suggestions about our guides, please send them to:
Central Operations Group
1 Bedford Park
(DX 8888 Croydon 3)
You can obtain further copies of this and all our guides free of charge from Customer Support (see Contact details) or you can download them in English and Welsh from our website.
HM Land Registry Case Summary
This case summary accompanies a notice to the Adjudicator to HM Land Registry under rule 5 of the Land Registration (Referral to the Adjudicator to HM Land Registry) Rules 2003.
AB12345 and AB7890
123 and 125 Steep Hill, New Town, Midshire
Anne Paula Plicant
123 Steep Hill, New Town, Midshire
Applicant’s legal or other representative:
Hollys, 789 High Street, Down Town, Midshire
Oliver Brian Jector
125 Steep Hill, New Town, Midshire
Objector’s legal or other representative:
Ivys, 321 Lower Road, Uptown, Midshire
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:
Copy documents accompanying case summary:
1. application in form AP1 dated 13 October 2003
2. letter from Hollys to 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 Land Registry dated 6 November 2003
7. conveyance dated 1 January 1956
8. conveyance dated 24 June 1999
Land Registrar for and on behalf of the Chief Land Registrar
Land Registry advisory policy
We offer advice to our customers through our publications and Customer Support information and through the day-to-day handling of applications.
We provide factual information including official copies of registers, title plans and documents, searches and details of our forms and fees.
We provide procedural advice to explain how the land registration system works and how to make applications correctly. This includes:
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This means that:
- we will not approve the evidence to be produced in support of a registration application before we receive the application
- apart from procedural advice, we will not advise on what action to take
- we will not recommend a professional adviser but can explain how to find one.
We provide advice only about real cases, not about theoretical circumstances. We will not express a view on questions where the law is complex or unclear except where the question arises on a live registration application.
In providing this factual information and procedural advice we will:
- be impartial
- recognise that others may be affected by what we say
- avoid any conflict of interest.
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Information in this guide
The information in this publication is for the purpose of providing general guidance about Land Registry's procedures and policies. It is intended only as a guide and does not cover every situation that may arise. It also does not limit Land Registry's ability to use its discretion when appropriate to do so, within the land registration legislation.
Chief Land Registrar
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