As with many solicitors, I suspect, I am becoming increasingly concerned at the delays in the processing of land registration applications and the lack of information from the Keeper.
I have clients who were encouraged by their land agents to voluntarily register their title and who are still awaiting their title sheets being produced. In what industry does one pay several thousand pounds for a service and wait years for the product to be produced? It does not assist when the Keeper does not even offer a timescale for when work will be completed so we can mange expectations.
I raised with the Registers of Scotland, who previously were encouraging voluntary registrations, whether there was any merit now in doing voluntary registrations given the inconvenience which could arise for large estates where title sheets were not being produced for a few years and, in the meantime, the Keeper was retaining the titles and charging for producing any necessary copies. It seems to me that the days for doing a voluntary registration are now past and we should simply be recommending to our clients that they wait for Keeper-induced registration, as any voluntary registration now lodged may be completed only a short time before the Keeper will have completed the registration under KIR if she is to meet her Government deadline.
It would, I believe, be helpful to everyone in the profession if the Keeper could give us an update on her targets. Her website says that registration of applications “affecting unregistered land” should be done within six months and, to date, there is 37.9% of this target being met. Unfortunately she does not tell us what the target is for the other 62.1% and we are unable to manage clients’ expectations as to when they might have the work which has been lodged with the Keeper completed. Having already taken payment for the service, you will appreciate this makes for poor customer relations all round.
Similarly for applications “affecting part of registered land”, it would be helpful to know what is the timescale we should truly expect rather than the Keeper’s aim of nine months, given that that has only been met in 55.7% of cases.
It might also be helpful for us to know whether the Keeper is sitting with any applications which have been with her for more than two years and, if so, what is the longest time we might expect an application to take to be completed. I am sure everyone would welcome greater clarity.
I hope if this letter is brought to the Keeper’s attention we might get the courtesy of a public response to enlighten us, as to date my attempts to get any information direct have been unsuccessful.Iain McDonald, Gillespie Gifford & Brown LLP, Castle Douglas [It is understood that Registers of Scotland intend to address this issue in forthcoming Journal articles, and elsewhere – Editor]