Registers of Scotland column: beta testing on ScotLIS; Land Register rules

ScotLIS, Scotland’s Land Information Service, entered private beta testing in August, a step where up to date information from the Land Register is available initially to a small number of stakeholders to test the system.

ScotLIS is an innovative map-based service that will facilitate easy access to a wide range of data relating to land and property in Scotland. A cornerstone of RoS’s digital transformation, ScotLIS will be a national asset not only for professionals, but also the general public, who for the first time will have access to map-based property information through a single, easy to use portal. Working in conjunction with several stakeholder groups, including local councils and solicitors, RoS has been continuing to develop the service throughout the initial alpha stage.

Private beta is expected to last for about a month, and during this time RoS will work alongside an increasing number of stakeholders to further develop ScotLIS and ensure the service continues to meet the expectations of our customers as they progress into public beta, where it will be available to a wider group of users, and move towards launch in October 2017.

Land register rules set to change

The introduction of the 2012 Land Registration Act laid the foundations for conveyancing and land registration in Scotland to move out of the paper world and into the online world by opening up the register to digital deeds duly authenticated by way of a digital signature.

In order to progress this, changes will need to be made to the Land Register rules (the Land Register Rules etc (Scotland) Regulations 2014), to facilitate both the introduction of new digital registration services and the improvement and streamlining of the land registration application process.

In November 2016, RoS published a consultation paper setting out our proposed direction of travel and detailing a number of proposals relating to the changes envisioned, the introduction of digital registration services and to proposed changes to the Land Register rules in order to assist with the next steps in RoS’s digital transformation.

The consultation set out proposals for the introduction of three new digital services, for discharges, securities and dispositions, as part of our commitment to opening up the Land Register to accept digital deeds and providing our customers with a faster, better and more secure registration service. Making these three deeds digitally enabled would digitally enable approximately nine out of 10 applications to the Land Register.

Earlier this year we launched the first of these new services, the digital discharge service, which has been very well received by both solicitors and lenders. We expect to launch digital services for securities and dispositions in 2018.

We are also moving towards a fully digital approach, by April 2018, in relation to advance notices over part, which would allow applicants to send us digital plans, making it easier and quicker for applicants to submit. We have also been working on simplifying and streamlining the registration application form. We know from feedback from solicitors that we can improve the wording of some of the questions, thus saving time and reducing errors which lead to rejections.

We intend to de-prescribe the form, which means that the content will no longer be set in the Land Register rules.

By working in consultation with stakeholders this change to an administrative form will allow us to change elements of the form more quickly, resolving issues faster.

We will provide more information on our proposed changes, and how we will consult with you before we make further changes, later in the year.

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