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Unregistered and Registered Title

Unregistered and Registered Title:


When purchasing land, the purchaser needs to make many enquiries about the land they he or she is intending to buy. In order to do this, they need proof of title to the land. In the English legal system, it is the responsibility of the vendor to prove to the purchaser that he or she has good title. These are either unregistered titles or registered titles. When the land is unregistered title, the vendor must produce a ‘title deed’ to the purchaser. Title deeds include conveyances, legal mortgages, grants of probate, grants of letters of administration and assents from personal representatives. A purchaser need only investigate as far back as the ‘root of title’. Normally the root of title is the most recent conveyance which is at least 15 years old. Where land is registered title, the vendor must prove title to the purchaser by reference to a ‘register of title’ which is kept by the government in a district registry. This was first introduced in the Land Registration Act of 1925. Once a title has been registered, all subsequent transactions with that title must be registered. When registered land is sold a ‘land transfer’ id executed by the parties. However, ownership does not pass until the transfer is registered.


Before 1925, most of the land in England and Wales was unregistered. With the introduction of the system of land registration that was brought into effect by the Land Registration Act of 1925 and now its replacement, the Land Registration Act 2002, land now must be registered. The system of traditional conveyancing was used previously which involved searching through a large number of documents, searching back through title deeds and checking marriage and death certificates to ensure that the seller was legally entitled to transfer the property. Proof of ownership was dependent on title deeds which could potentially be lost or damaged. There were obviously inherent problems with the unregistered system of conveyancing. It was not only a tedious system but it caused many problems as there were “gaps” in ownership.


Title Registration and the 3 Principles that Underpin Registered Land:

Mirror Principle:


  • Register of title should accurately and conclusively reflect the relevant interests affecting the land
  • These include ownership of the property and third party rights affecting it
  • Curtain Principle:
  • Details of trusts affecting the land are not entered on the register
  • There are regarded as private family matters and the purchaser is not concerned with details relating to trusts
  • Behind the Curtain”


Insurance Principle:


  • Accuracy of the register is guaranteed by the State
  • In event of inaccuracies being found, the register will however be usually rectified or altered, but any person affected by the alteration nor rectification will usually be compensated (s. 103 LRA 2002)
  • The claim for compensation is called indemnity
  • Insurance Principle:
    • Accuracy of the register is guaranteed by the State
    • In event of inaccuracies being found, the register will however be usually rectified or altered, but any person affected by the alteration nor rectification will usually be compensated (s. 103 LRA 2002)
    • The claim for compensation is called indemnity
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