There are two systems of conveyancing in England and Wales, the registered land system, which is governed by the Land Registration Act 2002 (LRA 2002) and the older system of unregistered land, which is governed partly by the rules of common law and equity and partly by provisions contained in the 1925 property legislation. The LRA 2002 was designed to "revolutionise conveyancing in England and Wales and to bring the land registration system into the modern age."
This paper aims to consider the shortcomings in both the unregistered and registered land systems from the viewpoint of both the purchaser of an estate in land and the owner of a third-party interest in an estate. Furthermore it will briefly consider whether the aims of the legislation have been achieved.
Prospective purchasers of an estate in land have two primary concerns. First, does the vendor have the right to sell the property in question and secondly, are there any third party rights to the land which may interfere with their intended use of the land. In order to appreciate the benefits of the modern registered land system, the old system of unregistered land must be taken into account. The fundamental distinction between unregistered and registered land is that the basis of title to unregistered land is possession, whereas the basis of registered title is the fact of registration. From a practical standpoint the difference is that, in the case of unregistered land, there is no central register and as such, the owner of unregistered land will have a collection of deeds showing an unbroken chain of transfers proving the devolution of the title. From this collection, it should be possible to ascertain whether the estate has been properly conveyed over the years and that the current vendor is the party to whom it was last vested in.
According to Megarry and Wade, "The dilemma of English land law is how to reconcile security of title with ease of transfer." This statement is particularly...