I am led to believe that there are some actions raised in court that are drafted by paralegals in a solicitor’s firm, signed by a solicitor who does not read them, warranted by a sheriff clerk who is unskilled and untrained, and the first time a lawyer actually looks at these actions is when it lands before a sheriff. Needless to say, a good number are rejected as being incompetent, defective etc.
I fear that this is going to happen in the world of land registration. A disposition will be drafted by a paralegal, probably not checked by a solicitor, revised and the conveyancing matters dealt with by a paralegal on the other side, and then sent off to Registers of Scotland where a deskilled person will check some tick boxes and then register the title, perhaps rejecting it for some minor technical issue, but not really addressing any fundamental problems.
The result will be, in my view, that the value of what is in the Land Register is going to be degraded. I predict that within five years, and certainly within 10 years if there is a dispute involving any property, the first thing a solicitor will do is dredge through the application record and the archive record to try and find something which has gone wrong. Obviously, this may pin liability on the solicitor under s 111 or s 112, but I am glad to say I will not be in practice in five or 10 years' time, and the resultant mess is someone else’s problem (not that I will admit to creating any myself!).
The Keeper’s office seems to have made a financial surplus in the last year, and quite frankly, I do not understand why the Keeper’s Midas touch had to be changed by the 2012 Act. The Keeper has broad shoulders and if he/she has to pay out a few claims under indemnity, then so be it. It can easily be recouped by a few pounds on everyone’s registration dues. Training staff is not going to cost that much either. My experience to date with the new system so far has been poor, e.g. rejections which are inexplicable, a land certificate being issued without any security in place (although the security went in at the same time), difficult to get hold of staff at Register House, and a long delay in getting plans reports.
The phrase which is being banded about is “institutionally unhelpful”, and that in the long run does not make the Keeper a friend of the profession. For many years people looked up to the Keeper’s office and admired their expertise, but this is something that seems to have been whittled away to the detriment, I would suggest, not only of the profession, but also the public.
I feel that the land registration system has taken a backwards step. It is a feature of a democracy, and in particular a stable democracy with a stable economy, that there is a reliable, safe and recognised land registration system. I do not suggest for a moment that this is not currently in existence in Scotland, but anything that degrades the value of the land registration system is surely unwelcome and undoubtedly flawed.
As a postscript I would say that I understand there is nothing in the 2012 Act that says the Keeper must act as she intends to act. This is all policy.
Can we charge the Keeper £30 for each error he/she makes?David R Adie, Adie Hunter, Glasgow