Memorandum from the Department for Constitutional
Affairs to |
the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments
LAND REGISTRATION FEE ORDER 2003 (S.I. 2003/2092)
The Committee has requested a memorandum in relation
to the above Order on two points. The first is -
(1) Given that section 128(3) of the Land Registration
Act 2002 requires a statutory instrument containing an order under
section 102 to be laid before Parliament after being made, explain:
(a) whether this instrument has been laid and,
if so, on what date it was laid;
(b) why it does not bear on its face the date
of laying, as required by section 4(2) of the Statutory Instruments
(c) if it has not been laid, why that has not
been done and whether notification has been given to the Lord
Chancellor and the Speaker explaining why it was not laid before
it came into force, as required by the proviso to section 4(1)
of that Act.
The instrument has now been laid. It was laid on
30 October 2003. It is acknowledged that section 128(3) of the
Land Registration Act 2002 ("the 2002 Act") contains
a requirement for Fee Orders to be laid. The fact that it had
not been laid earlier was due to an administrative oversight.
Under the previous legislation, land registry fee orders did not
have to be laid after making. The change in legislative procedure
made by the 2002 Act was overlooked. This is deeply regretted,
and HM Land Registry unreservedly apologises for the earlier omission.
Notification was given to the Lord Chancellor and the Speaker
before laying, on 30 October 2003, explaining why the Order was
not laid before it came into force.
The instrument will be reprinted displaying the laying
date on the first page. Copies will be available free of charge
to those who have already purchased the instrument.
The second point is -
(2) Given that section 102 of the 2002 Act
empowers the Lord Chancellor to prescribe the fees to be paid,
identify the powers under which articles 4(3), 6(3), 9(3) and
(4), 11 and 13 are made.
It submitted that the powers conferred by section
102 of the 2002 Act enabled the Lord Chancellor to make the articles
referred to, except articles 11(1) and (2).
Section 102 of the 2002 Act empowers the Lord Chancellor
not only to prescribe the fees to be paid but also to make provision
about the payment of prescribed fees. The powers under this section
include the power to make different provision for different cases
As regards articles 11(1) and (2), it is now considered
that the power to make these provisions must be very doubtful
and HM Land Registry apologises for their inclusion in the Fee
Order. It is accepted that it is very doubtful whether a power
to make provisions about the payment of fees can include a power
to make provision about the repayment of fees and the retention
of all or part of certain overpayments.
Fees Orders made under section 145 of the Land Registration
Act 1925 since 1990 contained the same provision but reliance
could be placed on section 128 of the Finance Act 1990. However,
the 1990 Act does not apply to enactments passed after its coming
Immediate steps are being taken to ensure that no
further deductions in respect of overpayments are made and to
set up a procedure to provide for repayment of deductions made
since the Order came into force.
As regards the other articles, it is considered that
it must have been Parliament's intention that there be flexibility
so that in prescribed circumstances an applicant may be relieved
of paying a fee which would in the particular circumstances exceed
significantly the cost of the work involved, or otherwise inappropriate,
and for an additional fee to be payable under the terms of the
Order where the cost of the work exceeds substantially the normal
The same provisions as are contained in these articles
are also contained in the Land Registration Fees Order 2003 (S.I. 2003/165)
and earlier Orders. While these Orders were made under the Land
Registration Act 1925 (repealed by the Land Registration Act 2002)
we cannot see that the powers in the 1925 and 2002 Acts are in
this respect different.
Article 4(3) permits the registrar to reduce or waive
a fee in the specified circumstances and article 9(3) gives the
registrar a discretion to waive all or part of fixed fees. The
effect of these paragraphs is that where they are applied there
is either no prescribed fee or a reduced prescribed fee. This
provision is considered to come within the power to prescribe
fees for different cases. It was also considered that it was within
the power to make provision about the payment of prescribed
fees, because "about" is wide enough to encompass the
circumstances when a fee or full fee is not to be paid.
If the exception at (a) to article 11(3) applies
then the fee is being waived in whole or in part and the same
considerations as in the previous paragraph apply. If the exception
at (b) applies then, as article 9(5) makes explicit, no fee is
Articles 6(3) and 9(4) provide for an additional
fee to be paid if the registrar directs in the prescribed circumstances.
Article 13 provides a method for calculating a fee for an application
where no other is prescribed, no exemption applies and the registrar
(in effect) does not waive it.
None of the articles referred to in the previous
paragraph prescribe a specific amount but each prescribes a maximum
ascertainable amount in the case of -
article 6(3), that amount is a figure not exceeding
the cost of the work involved,
article 9(4), it is the excess cost of the work,
article 13, it is not to exceed the relevant Scale
In the case of article 9(4), once the registrar considers
that the cost of the work involved in dealing with the application
would substantially exceed any fee otherwise payable under the
Order there is no discretion (subject to article 9(3)) as to the
amount of the additional fee.
As regards articles 6(3) and 13, the registrar has
discretion not to charge the maximum amount.
From this analysis the registrar is not given an
unfettered power to fix a fee but rather a maximum fee is set
and the registrar may reduce that fee. That being so, similar
considerations apply to the question of waiver or reduction of
fees under articles 4(3), 9(3) and 11(3) to those discussed at
paragraphs 12 and 13 above.
3 November 2003