Search Legislation

Land Registration Act 2002

The objectives of the Act

Associated changes

13.The Act contains a range of other provisions which increase the extent to which the register gives a complete and accurate reflection of the state of title. The number of dispositions that must be registered is extended, in particular by reducing the length of registrable leases from more than 21 to more than seven years, with a power to reduce it further. With very limited exceptions, express dispositions of registered land will also have to be appropriately protected in the register.

14.One important aspect of the current legislation changed by the Act is that of “overriding interests”. Under the Land Registration Act 1925, these include all the incumbrances, interests, rights and powers which are not entered on the register, but override registered dispositions under the Act. Such interests create a number of problems, since people can find that they have bought estates which are subject to adverse interests which are not be clear from the register, and can be quite difficult to determine. In the Act, the categories of interests which are not registrable appear in two distinct lists, one relevant to first registration of title, the other to dealings with registered land. In each list they will be reduced in scope. The ambit of particular categories will be narrowed, some categories will be abolished altogether, and others will be phased out after ten years.

15.In favour of those dealing with them, owners of registered land will be presumed to have unrestricted powers of disposition in the absence of any entry in the register. The rules as to the competing priority of interests in registered land are clarified. Charge certificates will be abolished, and land certificates will have a less important role.

16.The Act reduces to two the methods of protecting the interests of third parties over registered land. Notices may be used to protect encumbrances on land that are intended to bind third parties (such as easements or restrictive covenants). Restrictions regulate the circumstances in which a disposition of a registered estate or charge may be the subject of an entry in the register. Either can be sought without the consent of the registered proprietor who must be notified and who will be able to apply for cancellation of the notice, or object to an application for a restriction. People who apply for either must act reasonably.

17.One of the objectives of the Law Commission and Land Registry’s report is that registration alone should confer title. The Act introduces a new scheme for protecting the interests of registered proprietors against the acquisition of title by persons in adverse possession, or “squatters”. A squatter will be able to apply to be registered as proprietor after ten years’ adverse possession. The registered proprietor will, however, be notified of that application and will, in most cases, be able to object to it. Where the proprietor does object, the application will be rejected unless the squatter can meet one of three limited exceptions. The proprietor will then have to take steps to evict the squatter, or otherwise regularise the position within two years. Squatters still in adverse possession after two years will be entitled to be registered as proprietor.

18.Where the Crown is the direct owner of its land (known as demesne land), it does not hold an estate. It is therefore not open to it to register this land (since only estates are registrable). The Act provides a procedure for the voluntary registration of demesne land. It also modernises procedures for returning to economic use land which has reverted to Crown ownership (usually in the course of insolvency proceedings).

19.The Act also revises the arrangements for the handling of business within the Land Registry. A new system of independent adjudication of disputes arising out of disputed applications to the registrar will be set up. The Act includes provision enabling the Registry to provide consultancy and advisory services.

20.The Act also restates the law in modern and simple language.

Back to top


Print Options


Explanatory Notes

Text created by the government department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Public Acts except Appropriation, Consolidated Fund, Finance and Consolidation Acts.


More Resources

Access essential accompanying documents and information for this legislation item from this tab. Dependent on the legislation item being viewed this may include:

  • the original print PDF of the as enacted version that was used for the print copy
  • lists of changes made by and/or affecting this legislation item
  • confers power and blanket amendment details
  • all formats of all associated documents
  • correction slips
  • links to related legislation and further information resources