According to The Law Commission, technical fixes of the law could help stop property fraudsters. Measures are being recommended to help prevent fraud from taking place in registered land, alongside wider technical changes to the law.
Professor Nick Hopkins, Law Commissioner, said: “For many, the land they own is the most valuable thing they will ever have, so it’s important that the registration system provides clarity over who owns what.” The Land Registration Act was a huge leap forward in land ownership, but 15 years on it needs to be refreshed to adapt it to the modern world and make things as efficient as possible. “We’re recommending some technical reforms which will iron out the kinks, help prevent fraud and make conveyancing faster, easier and cheaper for everyone.”
An effective land registration law is essential for everyone who owns land. In England and Wales, 85% of land is now registered, amounting to 25 million titles. The other 15% will be registered, at the latest, the next time it is sold or otherwise transferred. Any inefficiencies or uncertainties in the land registration system can have a significant impact on the property market and the wider economy. As a result, following wide consultation, the Law Commission is recommending changes to the Land Registration Act 2002. Recommendations will enable HM Land Registry to set reasonable steps that conveyancers must undertake to verify the identity of their clients to help detect fraudsters. Conveyancers who follow the required steps won’t be responsible if fraud still happens.
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Russell Hewitson, chair of the Law Society’s Conveyancing and Land Law Committee said: “Effective land registration is essential for everyone who owns land and so we welcome the Law Commission’s recommendations to the Land Registration Act 2002 and look forward to the Government’s response to these recommendations and the accompanying draft Bill. In particular, we welcome changes that would both improve fraud detection and highlight the threat of fraud. Overall these recommendations should improve the conveyancing process for home buyers and sellers, business owners and investors.”