Keeper’s update including developments on ARTL and customer relations

In the latest of his quarterly columns, Keeper Alan Ramage provides an update on ARTL and the Register’s customer relationship action plan

Limited Company Standard Securities in the Land Register

To assist solicitors in complying with the provisions of section 410 of the Companies Act 1985 (Registration of Charges) Agency staff confirm the date of registration of all securities granted by Limited Companies free of charge. To assist in identifying such securities the applicant should write or type the words “Confirmation of Registration is required” in red letters at the top of page 1 of the Application Form.

The Agency requires to know if the Charge created by the registered security has thereafter been timeously registered in the Register of Charges.  Failure to do this means that indemnity is excluded in respect of that failure.  In the letter of confirmation of registration in the Land Register there is included a reminder regarding the need for registration in the Register of Charges and a request for the applicant to forward a copy of the Certificate of Registration of Charge to the Agency when it comes to hand.  The letter also contains a warning that failure to do so within 60 days will result in the issue of a Charge Certificate with the foresaid exclusion of indemnity without any further warning.

Despite this a number of solicitors still fail to submit the Certificate of Registration timeously and then have to incur the additional work and expense involved in getting the exclusion removed.  Solicitors should maximise the benefit of the free Confirmation Service by following through and submitting the Certificate of Registration of Charge immediately it is received from the Registrar of Companies.

Contact Point: margaret.archer@ros.go.uk (0131 659 6111 Ext.3609).

Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000

The new guardianship and intervention procedures under the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 which replace curatory came into force on 1 April.  Where heritable property is involved, new conveyancing and registration issues arise.  Guidance on the Keeper’s policy in respect of registration of intervention and guardianship orders and transactions under these orders can be downloaded from the news section of the Agency’s website at www.ros.gov.uk.

Contact Point: john.glover@ros.gov.uk (0131 659 6111 Ext.5029)

Legal Issues

Help shape the future of Land Registration in Scotland

Automated Registration of Title to Land (ARTL) Project

Thanks to those firms and institutions that participated in the recent Pilot Study and to those who have responded to the ARTL Consultation Document.  The consultation period runs until the end of August and the Agency would urge all recipients of the Document to respond by that date.  Your feedback and views on electronic registration are needed to help develop the project further. The Document raises a number of important issues on how a system for making electronic applications for registration in the Land Register may be structured.

As well as those who participated in the Pilot, the views of all those involved in property transactions on the wider e-conveyancing and registration issues associated with a move from the paper to the electronic medium would be welcomed.  Practitioners and others throughout Scotland are therefore invited to become involved in this important project and help shape the future of land registration in Scotland.  Copies of the Consultation Document can be obtained from the Agency’s website (www.ros.gov.uk) or from the contact point shown below.

Current Developments

The Agency is involved in discussion with the Council of Mortgage Lenders, a number of Law Society Committees, Stamp Taxes Office and Companies House.  The aim is to identify, address and resolve stakeholder issues to enable a system of automated registration that takes into account all user requirements.  The Agency is conducting research into the legislative changes needed to facilitate ARTL, and developments in Public Key Encryption and Electronic Fund Transfer.  The Agency also proposes to seek high level independent verification of the legal and practice changes associated with a system of automated registration.

Contact Point: andy.martin@ros.gov.uk (0131 479 3619)

Udal Law

Orkney and Shetland are included in the final tranche of counties due to become Land Register operational areas on 1 April 2003.  From that date, any transfer of an interest held under udal tenure will lead to registration in the Land Register.  Registration will become the only means by which someone acquiring ownership of udal land is able to obtain a real right.  Udal tenure brings with it a number of assumptions that differ from those which apply to a feudal title in mainland Scotland.  For instance, udal land is not subject to any superior interest, and can be held without a written title.

The Agency is keen to ensure that it has policies in place which will enable it to take account of the distinctive nature of udal tenure when applications for registration are processed.  The Scottish Law Commission, who have carried out some research on udal law, has been consulted.  The Agency is also in contact with both the Society of Procurators in Orkney and the Faculty of Solicitors in Shetland, with a view to developing a shared approach to issues that may cause concern.

Further information on the implications of udal tenure for the Land Register will be made available before the Counties of Orkney and Shetland become subject to land registration arrangements.  Practitioners with an interest in this issue are invited to contact the Agency.

Contact Point: martin.corbett@ros.gov.uk (0131 659 6111 Ext.5804)

Business Results

Customer Relationship Action Plan

The Agency has carried out various forms of Market Research over the recent past.  This research has identified a range of common issues affecting solicitors’ perceptions of the Agency’s products and services.

The Agency now proposes to implement a customer contact strategy focused on improving the Agency’s products and services in the eyes of its customers.  The main elements being:

  • Closer integration of solicitor-facing activities under the banner of customer relations management.
  • Closer working relations with individual firms of solicitors.
  • Framework of CPD Seminars to engage the profession as a whole.
  • Professionally published series of Registration Updates.

These are briefly expanded upon as follows:

Customer Relations

On day-to-day registration issues, solicitors are in contact with the Agency’s Production, Reports, Legal Services and Customer Services staff.  We plan to ensure that these customer-facing activities are integrated as fully as possible so that solicitors experience “seamless” interaction with the Agency.

Closer Working Relations

As the Land Register continues to expand the Agency needs to develop closer working relations with the profession.  The Agency aims to engage solicitors on such matters as:

  • Reducing the number of applications rejected at Intake.
  • Agency staff visiting solicitors to help in the preparation of applications and the subsequent processing of requisitions.
  • Solicitors’ staff visiting the Agency to view how applications are processed.
  • Workshops on particular practices and policies that affect individual firms.
  • Workshops and support in the use of Agency main services and products.
  • Providing opportunities to shape future practice and policy in the Agency.
Some 200 firms provide the bulk of the Agency’s registration work.  These firms will be invited to develop closer working relations.  In so doing, they will provide invaluable up-to-date feedback on the Agency’s policies and practices - helping to shape the future.

CPD Seminars

Two CPD Seminars took place in June (Borders and Highland).  The outcome from these will be reviewed with the intention of developing a regular framework for engaging the profession.  The main elements currently under consideration are joint ventures with Law Society, Universities and Faculties of Solicitors to reach both present and future solicitors and supporting seminars for outlying areas of Scotland.

Registration Updates

A professional series of updates will be prepared to support the Agency’s engagement with the profession and individual firms.

Contact point: alan.malone@ros.gov.uk (0131 659 6111 Ext.3941)

Information Services

Registers Direct Update

Registers Direct has now been fully operational for six months.  The current level of functionality has always been regarded as the first step in the development of a wider range of services that could be delivered through Registers Direct.

The first of these to be delivered, the Land Register Property Price Search, is scheduled for imminent release.  It will enable customers to search a specific area over a specific six-month period and obtain a list of addresses and property prices paid.  Another facility under development is a multi-county search enquiry service.  This will provide information across a range of registration counties from a single input enquiry form on the screen.  This is planned as an off-line service with the search being carried out by our customer services staff.  The search result can then be returned to the customer electronically.  The Agency welcomes any suggestions that might lead to the development of new and innovative services for the public.

The Agency is keen to support new and existing Registers Direct users.  Procedures have been introduced to enable regular contact to be maintained with customers in order to receive feedback and to offer help or training to those who wish to use the system.

Contact Point: allan.mackinnon@ros.gov.uk (0131 659 6111 Ext.4556)

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