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Land Law Reform

The publication of the Report on Land Law on 15 December 2010 completes the land law reform project. The Report contains our recommendations to Government for reform together with draft legislation to implement the proposals.

The need to modernise property law to accommodate changing social, demographic and economic requirements has long been recognised. It has also been generally recognised that the law should be simplified to make it more easily understood and accessible. The primary aim of the Land Law Reform Project was to make proposals for the reform and modernisation of land law and conveyancing law.

Many of the concepts of land law are enshrined in ancient legislation and the conveyancing process is largely governed by laws which were enacted in the 19th century. Some of the rules and principles are obsolete, others cause unnecessary complications and many are of reduced relevance today. One of the principal aims of the Project was to remove anomalies and anachronisms in the law of property and to remove the traps for the unwary. We also sought to simplify the law to make it more easily understood and accessible as well as facilitating the conveyancing of property.

We published a Consultation Paper on Land Law NILC2 (2009) with our proposals for reform. The consultation period for those proposals ran from 1 June 2009 to 18 September 2009. The areas of substantive land law and conveyancing law that were covered in the Consultation Paper included: feudal tenure, estates in land, easements and other rights over land, future interests, settlements and trusts, concurrent interests, mortgages, contracts for the sale of land and conveyances.

We also published a Supplementary Consultation Paper Land Law NILC3 (2010) which covered the areas of Adverse Possession, Ground Rents and Covenants After Redemption. The consultation period consultation period for those proposals from 1 February 2010 to 30 April 2010.

Following an analysis of the responses to both the Consultation Paper and the Supplementary Consultation Paper, we made some revisions to our original proposals before publishing the Report on Land Law on 14 December 2010.

The Consultation Paper included a review of all the statutes from the 13th century to date that had any relevance to land. We screened the statutes to identify those which could be repealed without replacement and which are now completely obsolete or otherwise inappropriate. We also identified those statutes which remain relevant today, but which will require amendment to be effective in a modern environment. The draft legislation attached to the Report includes repeal and amendment schedules in relation to the existing statutes which affect land.

Our Project to reform the substantive law of property was complemented by the work of the Land and Property Services Agency(opens new window) to introduce electronic registration and to examine the technical requirements for the further development of electronic processes within the system of land registration. Without a sound framework of modern land law underpinning the conveyancing process it would not be possible to develop a high quality advanced approach to land registration. We also believe that substantial reform of the underlying law will facilitate improvements in the conveyancing process, assisting in making it simpler and less protracted.

Related documents
Report on Land Law - NILC 8 (2010)
Supplementary Consultation Paper Land Law -NILC 3 (2010)
Consultation Paper Land Law - NILC2 (2009)
Equality Impact Assessment on proposals for Land Law Reform Monitoring Report
Equality Impact Assessment on proposals for Land Law Reform
Equality of Opportunity Screening Analysis Form - Land Law Reform
Regulatory Impact Assessment Screening Analysis Form - Land Law Reform