Registered Land Reform

AuthorGerald Dworkin
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2230.1961.tb00658.x
Publication Date01 Jan 1961
REGISTERED LAND REFORM
INTRODUCTION
SLOWLY
but relentlessly this greatly cherished land of ours
is
becoming subject to the provisions of compulsory registration of
title. The growth of this system, which began in the County of
London in
1898,
faltered, and then gained slight impetus after the
1925
property legislation, has steadily accelerated since the last
war. Large areas of southern England (Middlesex,
1936;
Surrey,
1952;
Kent,
1957-61)
have succumbed and the disease has even
affected an isolated patch of northern England (Oldham,
1956)
and
there is the threat of contagion in the near future (Manchester and
Salford).
It
is estimated that about one quarter of all convey-
ancing transactions in the country go through the Land Registry.
The opposition of many, but not all, unregistered land convey-
ancers has now Been muffled and, perhaps, in a lifetime, the whole
of England and Wales will be governed by the system. Books on
land law will have to be rewritten within the registered land frame-
work. The Land Registration Acts and
H.M.
Land Registry will
be as familiar to the lawyer as the Income Tax Acts and the Inland
Revenue are today
!
The stealthy revolution to ancient conveyancing practice is
taking place calmly and smoothly. The suspicious conveyancer,
reared on unregistered land, quickly discovers that a bulky and
dirty abstract of title (fruitlessly perused generation after genera-
tion by fresh legal minds) may generally be superseded by a short
office copy of the Land Certificate. Once the art of Land Registry
form-filling is acquired, the conveyancer accepts the new order
content in the knowledge that the slightly reduced costs are more
than balanced by the greater speed and simplicity. This very
complacency, however, is a little disconcerting.
Unregistered
land conveyancing is real law; registered land conveyancing is
simple form manipulation.”
If
this false view is accepted, an
imperfect knowledge of the system will flourish. Lawyers must
know what they are doing; deceptively easy transactions may cloud
thought.. There are still many legal problems in registered land
transactions.
The object of land registration is to provide a method of
creating and transferring interests in land which is simple, speedy
and cheap. The clichC that the transfer of land should be as simple
as the transfer of stocks and shares is often used. To this end the
Land Registry examine the title of the owner
of
unregistered land
(usually following the first purchase of the land after registration
of title in that area becomes compulsory) and create a register
of
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