As he leaves Registers of Scotland, David Preston looks at what has been achieved in the ARTL project, and the benefits going forward

David Preston joined Registers of Scotland (RoS) in 2005 as one of two Key Stakeholder Representatives (KSRs) to work on the development of our Automated Registration of Title to Land (ARTL) system. (Readers may remember that Tom Drysdale, the other KSR, retired at the end of 2007.) The role of the KSRs came to an end in December. They delivered a great deal, providing an invaluable stakeholder perspective and playing an important part in the development of the ARTL system.

David brought with him the experience of 30 years in general practice, which included serving as President of the Law Society of Scotland, and saw the ARTL project as an exciting and very important development. He frequently brought this to bear, giving a clear steer as to what would and would not work in practice, and left the project better informed about the operation of solicitors’ firms.

As David left RoS, he reflected on his four years with the ARTL project, the benefits of the system, and how he sees it developing in the future.

Benefits all round David was responsible for liaising between RoS, the Society and the profession.

His work involved giving advice to those developing ARTL as well as providing

advice and promoting ARTL to the profession. David was a member of the Project Team and of the Society’s ARTL Implementation Group, the Steering Group and the Project Board.



David says that coming from the profession into RoS readily allowed him to relate to solicitors across Scotland and discuss the impact of ARTL on solicitors’ firms.

He acknowledges that it is a new concept which takes time to get comfortable with, but when this has been achieved there are benefits all round. Using ARTL saves time and paper and there is no real chance of documents getting lost as they are traceable electronically.

“Once people are used to the system I think it will be tremendously beneficial”, he commented. “There is a potential for others, probably the Society, to build on ARTL to develop a full eConveyancing process.”

In addition to benefiting solicitors, ARTL provides benefits to the public. A land certificate created via ARTL is available within 24 hours of settlement of a transaction. It has also led to a reduction in registration fees of 30% when compared to a paper application. However, David says it is important to remember that the responsibility and importance of the solicitor’s involvement in the process is not diminished.

David’s biggest challenge with ARTL has been gaining the confidence of certain members of the profession in embracing the technology involved. He believes the way to meet this is to continue to demonstrate the process in order to build confidence in those who are not technologically minded.

The most enjoyable part of his work, he says, has been meeting and interacting with people within RoS as well as members of the profession.

Key challenges for the future

The key challenges which now lie ahead are to build confidence in and continually enhance and improve the system. As David says, “It is about gaining confidence, getting it rolled out and getting people used to using it. ARTL is a sophisticated tool for solicitors and can be regarded as ‘cutting edge’ in many respects.”

He acknowledges it has taken longer to implement than anticipated but asserts that Registers of Scotland should be proud of it. “It is a good robust system, better than other systems around the world, but the job is not done yet. We still need to refine the system and continue to build confidence. Further developments will be required in the future.”

It is important, he adds, that the development team work with BT to make sure the processes are kept similar to what solicitors are used to on paper.

The way forward

He also comments that “eConveyancing is next and is the way forward, but is for others outwith RoS to develop.”

Finally, David says it has been a very interesting experience coming into the Civil Service from a small firm. He now plans to offer a consultancy service to the profession, including the handling of complicated requisitions from the Keeper.


ARTL UPDATE – as at 29 January

13,663 ARTL transactions have taken place.

118 solicitors’ firms are currently on the ARTL system.

15 lenders are currently on the ARTL system.

9 local authorities are using the system.

13 full sign-up meetings scheduled for the next four weeks.

For up-to-date information and a full list of participating practices and companies go to:

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