New Perspectives on Land Registration: Contemporary Problems and Solutions

Publication Date03 Oct 2019
AuthorSarah Keenan
SubjectProperty management & built environment,Building & construction,Building & construction law,Real estate & property,Property law
Book review
New Perspectives on Land Registration: Contemporary Problems
and Solutions
Amy Goymour, Stephen Watterson, Martin Dixon (Eds)
Hart Publishing,
ISBN 9781509906031
Review DOI 10.1108/JPPEL-10-2019-046
The edited collection New Perspectives on Modern Land Registration: Contemporary
Problems and Solutions(Goymour et al.,2018) offers an extensive array of rich and careful
technical expositionsof land registration law in England and Wales, Scotland, Australia and
New Zealand, offering detailed explanations of the inner workings of land registration from
a range of academics and practitioners, including current and former law commissioners.
The collection does not however offer new perspectives on land registration. It does not
seriously question the constructions of property being produced through registration, or
their broader effects, or engage with the interdisciplinary and critical literature that exists
on the formalisation of titleand the automation of its conveyance. Instead, the book takes for
granted laws role in the productionof markets in land and assumes that the laws related to
land registration can only be critiqued for the level to which they facilitate those markets.
The book is difcult to review because of the lack of a substantive introduction to draw
together underlyingthemes or perspectives. This is not to take issue with the merit of any of
the individual chapters in the book on doctrinal terms, but rather to suggest that much
deeper questioning and critical analysis is required for the politically important task of
nding new perspectiveson land registration.
The enclosure, privatisation and ownership of land are deeply political, historically
specic processes inextricably linked to notions of propriety and personhood. The transfer
of entitlement to enclosed, privatised land is thus not only a necessarily complex legal task
but also one that is dependent on and productiveof relations of power. For a very long time,
as Alain Pottage has demonstrated, power was located in local community memory
(Pottage, 1992, 1994). The seemingly banal change in legal process from proving and
transferring title through paper deeds to relying on a central register involved a shift in
power away from local community memory and towards a central administrative archive,
and a corresponding shift in the very idea of what was being proven and transferred (ibid).
As we now move away from paper registries and towards digital technology, new
constructions of property are beingproduced and with them new formations of power. Last
year, the Law Commission released its extensive report on updating the Land Registration
Act (LRA) 2002, HM Land Registry announced its ambitionto become the worlds leading
land registry for speed, simplicity and an open approach to data, and aiming to achieve
comprehensive registration by 2030, a number of Australian states took steps towards
Book review
Journalof Property, Planning and
Vol.11 No. 3, 2019
pp. 171-175
© Emerald Publishing Limited

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