House of Commons - Explanatory Note
Land Registration Bill [HL] - continued          House of Commons

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Registration gives no extra protection against squatters

341.     It may be thought that the public benefit of making registered title more secure outweighs the private windfall benefit of the squatter under the present law. Save to the extent that would be 'land thieves' may be deterred from starting to possess adversely, which seems unlikely, the change would not affect the incidence of squatting or the removal of squatters from possession. The proposal concerns only the ultimate ownership of land.

Too many rights over land do not have to be registered

342.     The present situation is considered to promote uncertainty in conveyancing. A requirement of registration in appropriate cases would bring certainty. The burden of registration will be eased by the 10 year registration period and the waiving of any fee for registration.


343.     At this stage of the development of electronic conveyancing the intention is to provide a flexible framework so that by working in partnership with stakeholders the Government can ensure that the best solution is discovered and adapted. This process may take some time. A final decision now between the options is considered premature.

344.     The preferred option for the present is to allow paper and electronic conveyancing documents. During this initial period, which may be a number of years, work on the development of a complete electronic conveyancing system will continue. This work and the consultation that will accompany it will inform the development of policy and any further choice between the options.


345.     Subject to absorbing the initial costs of change it is expected that the Bill will simplify the conveyancing process and enable it to be transformed by the use of information technology. Coupled with other developments, such as the National Land Information Service, these reforms will enable the time taken in an average conveyancing transaction to be reduced by over a third.

346.     A full regulatory appraisal is available to the public from the Lord Chancellor's Department Land Law Development Division Lord Chancellor's Department 105 Victoria Street London SW1E 6QW (Tel: 020 7210 1231 Fax: 020 7210 1269 E-mail: The Lord Chancellor's Department will place copies of the Regulatory Impact Assessment in the libraries of both Houses of Parliament.


347.     Section 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998 requires the Minister in charge of a Bill in either House of Parliament to make a statement about the compatibility of the provisions of the Bill with the Convention rights (as defined by section 1 of that Act). The statement has to be made before second reading. On 7 November 2001 Michael Wills made the following statement:

  • In my view, the provisions of the Land Registration Bill [HL] are compatible with the Convention rights.


Adjudicator: a person appointed under the Bill by the Lord Chancellor to hear objections (which cannot be resolved by agreement) arising from applications lodged at the Land Registry.

Adverse possession: occupation by a squatter, without the permission of the owner, with the intention of owning the land.

Beneficial interest: the right of a beneficiary in respect of property held on trust for him or her.

Beneficiary: a person entitled to benefit from a trust.

Demesne land: land owned by the Crown absolutely and over which Her Majesty has dominion as lord paramount. Examples of demesne lands of the Crown are most foreshore, land which has escheated to it and its ancient lands which have never been granted as a freehold estate.

Disponee: the person to whom property is conveyed.

Disponor: the person who conveys or makes over property.

Easement: a right the benefit of which is had by land, and which burdens other land, for example, a right of way over a shared driveway or a right to use private drains.

Escheat: this occurs where a freehold estate determines and the land falls back to the Crown as the ultimate owner of land, most commonly where the freehold is disclaimed in cases that involve insolvency - for example, where the liquidator of a company disclaims a freehold owned by that company

Estoppel: an impediment or bar to a right of action arising from a person's own act.

Fee simple: an estate in land belonging to the owner and his or her heirs for ever, without limitation to any particular class of heirs

First registration of title: the process whereby land or an interest in land is first registered. This can either be as a separate registered title or an entry on an existing title. In some cases a person must apply for first registration (compulsory first registration) in other cases he or she may apply (voluntary first registration).

Franchise: a grant from the Crown, such as the right to hold a market or fair, or to take tolls; under the Bill a franchise may be protected by registration under a separate title.

Freehold estate in land: the Crown is the only absolute owner of land in England and Wales: all others hold an estate (i.e. an interest) in land. Freehold is the estate which is the nearest equivalent to absolute (and permanent) ownership.

Indemnity: payment to a person who has suffered loss in relation to the matters set out in paragraph 1 of Schedule 8, for example, where there is a mistake in a register.

Leasehold estate in land: a leasehold estate arises from the grant of lease for a term of years by the owner of a freehold estate or a leasehold estate for a longer period.

Overreaching: to overreach an interest under a trust of land or settlement on a disposition of land means to dispose of that land free of that interest. It is a mechanism whereby the rights of a beneficiary in the trust land are detached from it and transferred to the proceeds of the sale of the land, enabling land to be sold free of the rights of the beneficiary.

Overriding interests: those adverse interests whose priority is automatically protected on first registration of title, or on a registered disposition of registered land, without the need for registration.

Profit ... prendre in gross: these are rights with an independent existence such as the right to hunt or shoot game or to harvest crops; under the Bill a profit may be protected by registration under a separate title.

Rectification: correction of a mistake on a register which prejudicially affects the title of a registered proprietor - rectification may result in the proprietor receiving indemnity.

Register: the document (usually computerised) containing the name of the registered proprietor, the nature and quality of the interest that is registered (e.g. an absolute freehold), a description of the registered property and benefits and burdens affecting it. Each register is allocated a unique title number. Sometimes the term is used to describe all the titles that are registered.

Registered charge: a type of mortgage to secure the re-payment of money or the performance of an obligation. The charge is registered against the affected registered land and not under a separate title.

Registered proprietor: the registered owner of a freehold or leasehold estate, or a registered charge, rentcharge, manor and, following the Bill, franchise or profit ... prendre in gross.

Rentcharge: an annual sum payable in respect of land in perpetuity or for a term of years, which gives the owner of the rentcharge (the rentowner) specific rights if the sum is not paid. After 21 August 1977 only certain rentcharges may be created, mainly "estate rentcharges" created for the purpose of making a landowner's personal covenants enforceable by the rentowner or to secure payment for the provision of services or the carrying out of maintenance, repairs and the like by the rentowner. Any other rentcharges created before 22 August 1977 will (if not already extinguished) be extinguished on 22 July 2037.

Settlement: land can only be held on trust for beneficiaries either under a settlement created under the Settled Land Act 1925 or under a trust of land. After 1996 it has not been possible to create a new settlement. An example of a settlement might be where A has a beneficial interest for life, and is registered as registered proprietor of the land, and when A dies B is entitled to the land absolutely. Normally, A will not be a trustee of the settlement but at least two others (who will not be registered as proprietors) will be.

Trust of land: land can only be held on trust for beneficiaries either under a trust of land or settlement. For example A and B may be registered as registered proprietors of land and hold the land on trust for themselves, or for themselves and C and D, or for just C and D - in each case A and B are also the trustees.

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Prepared: 9 November 2001