Draft regulations are awaiting publication which will alter the arrangements for registering documents in the Land Register of Scotland (and Register of Sasines) to enable the registration of electronic documents. The Registers of Scotland (Digital Registration etc) Regulations will also extend the availability of electronic submission of advance notices and de-prescribe the application form, allowing administrative and customer driven changes to be made more easily.

From dates to be determined, electronic documents will be able to be registered in the Land Register. The regulations will set up a presumption in favour of digital registration – the first step towards Registers’ desired aim to move to a mandatory electronic registration system.

Traditional documents may still be registered if the computer system is unavailable, the applicant has no computer system with access to the internet, or the Keeper is otherwise satisfied that exceptional circumstances make electronic registration impractical.

There is no timescale for introduction of these provisions, and from a practical perspective it is clear that there is still a lot to do before we reach that stage, although Registers’ aspiration is to be “a fully digital business” by 2020. The Keeper must give a minimum six months’ notice of the date a new digital registration service becomes compulsory, and must consult with Scottish ministers before doing so.

The Sasine Register is to be partially digitally enabled to allow the recording of digital deeds in that register where required for dual registration. There will be a limited relaxation of the “one-shot rule” for digital first registration applications, allowing 14 days after the application has been submitted to present the accompanying prior writs.

All types of advance notice applications will be able to be submitted digitally, including advance notices over unregistered plots which are recorded in the Sasine Register.

In future the Keeper will able to make changes to the application form as an administrative matter, without the need for secondary legislation. Initial changes proposed include removing the requirement to sign the form, removing the links in title question, and clarifying the servitudes and burdens questions.