One way or another, most individuals who own a home will have had some dealings with the Land Registry. Some of the most important documents and information relating to the ownership of your property are stored by the Land Registry.

The Land Registry maintains a database that containing copies of Title Plans and Title Registers for all registered properties within England, they also record transfers of property and ensure that the properties are registered to the correct individuals. The database held by Land Registry is one of the largest property databases in Europe.

The Land Registry receives no funding from the government and the organisation must ensure that the income it generates covers the expenditure generated through the services it provides. Accordingly, the Land Registry provides online access to its database allowing individuals to access the information stored by the Land Registry subject to a fee.

The government previously announced on 23 January 2014 that it proposed to privatise the Land Registry; however following vast opposition during the consultation process the government stated that it would not proceed with its plans to privatise the Land Registry.

The government has recently reignited its interest in the privatisation of the Land Registry and a further consultation period was held earlier this year expiring on 26 May 2016.

As with the first consultation, the government’s plans have been met with criticism due to the concerns that it would create a service motived by profit and could possibly lead to conflicts of interest.

With the Land Registry currently making a profit, many of the parties opposing the government’s plans believe that the government are looking to gain a short term benefit despite losing the long term benefit generated by the future profits that would be created by the Land Registry.

Below are summarised points of the concerns raised by the Law Society and the FDA.

The Law Society

The Law Society has stated that should the Land Registry be sold, safeguards would need to be put into place in order to address the following issues:

  • Competition and conflicts of interest;
  • Security and protection against corruption and fraud;
  • Data protection, data provision, the applicability of Freedom of Information legislation;
  • A state guarantee and the related indemnity provision;
  • Contingency plans to ensure continuity of service if the private company fails;
  • Safeguards to ensure the quality and impartiality of registration decisions;
  • Accessible and cost effective redress systems;
  • Fee controls for registration services; and
  • Meeting public policy objectives


  • Makes numerous assertions unsubstantiated by evidence;
  • Does not provide sufficient details of the proposals;
  • Does not sufficiently appreciate the importance of the work carried out by Land Registry to the wider UK economy and so crucially underestimates the significant risks posed by the proposals;
  • Fails to understand the quasi-judicial and complex nature of the core casework functions;
  • Fails to address the need for transparency and impartiality, thereby increasing the risk of bias and conflict of interest;
  • Poses a significant risk in terms of data protection, integrity of the register and cybersecurity and fraud;
  • Massively understates costs to business

Claire Leckenby, a Solicitor within our New Build Property Department comments as follows:

“The current political debates involving the re-nationalisation of the railways highlight quite clearly that privatisation does not always provide the advantages that people often attach to their reasoning for proposed privatisation.

Personally I believe that the main concerns regarding the proposed privatisation related to the guarantee relating to the quality of ownership that is currently provide by the government through the Land Registry and that of the need to protect individual’s data that is held by the Land Registry.

Should the privatisation go ahead it is critical that full and thorough processes are put in place to ensure that the services offered by the Land Registry continue to run and that the housing sector is not detrimentally affected by the privatisation.”

If you are in the process of buying or selling a property and are in need or a solicitor, we can provide you with the legal services you require. Do not hesitate to contact us on 0113 284 5000. Our team of conveyancers have a vast amount of experience in dealing with the transfer of property and will ensure that your transaction runs as smoothly as possible.

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