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Land Registration Act 2002

Section 72: Priority protection

120.Official searches undertaken in accordance with rules made under section 70 are normally priority searches undertaken by persons acquiring an interest for value. The system of priority searching means that any entry made on a register during the priority period of a search will be postponed to a subsequent application to register the instrument effecting the purchase. Section 72(2) makes new express provision for the protection of priorities, and confirms that an application is protected if there is a priority period in existence under a search and the application is made before the priority period has come to an end. To ensure the mechanics of the system operate correctly, subsection (3) states that the general principle will not apply if the entry is itself made as a result of a earlier protected application and relates to a protected application whose priority search was undertaken earlier in time. Additionally, a court order made under section 46(3) specifying the priority of an entry relating to that court order may take precedence over the effect of this section. The registrar is entitled to defer dealing with an application if it appears to him that a protected application might be made, as this would affect the priority of the applications he is to process. Rules may be made concerning the detailed operation of the priority searching system, including the order of competing priority periods. Rules may either provide for priority periods in connection with official searches or with the noting in the register of a contract for a registered disposition of a registered estate or charge. The noting of a contract is not often undertaken at present but will become necessary once contracts to make a disposition of a registered estate or charge take effect only on registration. This section enables the registrar at that stage to use either the existing official searching system or to base the priority period on the registration of the contract itself.

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