Liverpool Group Report: Birkenhead District Land Registry

April 30, 1998

Liverpool Group’s first meeting of 1998 was held jointly withLiverpool Law Society at Birkenhead District Land Registry and was a highlysuccessful and well-attended combination of demonstrations of the National LandInformation Service and the Direct Access Service. So popular was the meetingwhen advertised that a second demonstration was arranged for the first day, andboth were fully subscribed.

Alan Puddigan of the Land Registry’s National Land Information Serviceproject spoke first. He described the history of the project, which isdeveloping through a pilot scheme in Bristol, the plans to bring together allmajor providers of information about property (local authorities, OrdnanceSurvey, Coal Board, Environment Agency etc) to provide a one-stop shop for theprovision of all search information, and the conveyancing pilot which has beendeveloped and which will be tested live by three firms of Bristol solicitors inthe near future.

The demonstration showed in practical terms what would be involved insolicitors accessing the system online from their own offices, selecting therequired searches and paying one composite fee for all of them. Some searchresults will be available online either instantaneously or after a short period,and others will be transmitted by post or online when completed. The thought ofaccess to so much centralised information through one source is very attractive.However, Alan made clear that there is still a long way to go. A plan for anational index of properties could, subject to funding, be up and running within12 months but the provision of the mass of centralised data to support thatindex would take somewhat longer to establish. Nevertheless, conveyancers couldsee the imminent advantages in competitiveness and service delivery of being asolicitor in Bristol!

Terry Hewins of the Land Registry’s Direct Access Service demonstrated thisservice comprehensively. It is presently available to all solicitors online andcovers most but not all registered properties in England and Wales. Coverage inthe North West of England, serviced by Birkenhead District Land Registry, wassaid to be in excess of 90% and close to 100% in some places.

The ease of use and speed of response were clearly visible to those attendingand the demonstration will no doubt, have encouraged many conveyancingpractitioners to go online without delay.

The sessions were introduced by Liverpool Group Chairman David Rawlinson,were addressed by the Birkenhead District Land Registry Area Manager John Ecclesand were attended by the Birkenhead District Land Registrar Mike Garwood. Thanksare due from the Liverpool Group to Malcolm Simmons, Customer Services Managerat Birkenhead District Land Registry, for his assistance in the organisation andfor provision of refreshments, and to Caroline Gould at SCL’s office inBristol and Libby Ng at Liverpool Law Society for their help in co-ordinatingarrangements and dealing with the effects of little local difficulties such as atrain strike on the day of the meetings.