Minor changes to many Land Registry forms

The Land Registry has confirmed that it will be making minor changes to over 50 current forms, including Transfer deeds and Applications to change the register. The actual changes relate to the notes within the margins of the forms, rather than the mandatory provisions of the forms. The Land Registry has confirmed that it will continue to accept older versions of the forms and it will not therefore be necessary to reject versions of the forms which incorporate the older margin notes. Click here for link to Land Registry website for further information.

Land Registry to close telephone ordering services

Following a consultation period, the government has confirmed that amendments will be made to the Land Charges legislation to enable the closure of the Land Registry and Land Charges Registry telephone ordering services on 17 December 2012. Whilst the use of online services such as Business Gateway and Land Registry Portal has increased in recent years, there has been a 96% decrease in demand for the telephone services. Going forward Land Registry’s focus will be on developing its online services for business customers, to make applications faster and easier. More information is available via Land Registry’s website here.

Rescission post-completion

The recent case of Harsten Developments Limited v Eaken [2012] EWHC 2704 (Ch) considered legal issues arising from misrepresentations made in respect of the sale of a building plot at auction, and highlights the importance of ensuring full disclosure of issues affecting a property. The developer Claimant acquired a building plot at auction, which had planning permission for the construction of a single dwelling. Following completion of the purchase the owner of a neighbouring property asserted  title to part of the land the Claimant believed it had acquired. It also transpired that drainage pipes had been laid across the land pursuant to an easement which had not been disclosed, and that there were doubts as to whether the planning permission could be implemented. As a result of these issues the Claimant wished to rescind the contract (notwithstanding that completion had taken place).

The Court held that the seller was guilty of misrepresentations which were not insubstantial, and that in the circumstances it would be inequitable to deny the Claimant the remedy of rescission. Even though the purchase had been completed almost three years before proceedings commenced, the Claimant was entitled to rescind the contract, receive a refund of the purchase price, and receive damages.

First Prosecution since implementation of new squatting legislation

Following the implementation of the new legislation criminalising squatting, the BBC has reported the first prosecution under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act. In this case, the defendant admitted squatting at an early stage in proceedings, and was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment. Full details in relation to the story are available here. The first prosecution follows a report last month that a challenge to the legislation is being planned on the grounds that it breaches Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (to respect for private and family life). Full details in relation to the story are available here.

The Green Deal

As noted in earlier briefings, the “Green Deal” is a government initiative designed to enable households and businesses to improve the energy efficiency of their properties. On 2 October 2012 the Department of Energy and Climate Change announced that the legal framework for the Green Deal was in place and that this represented a “regulatory green light” to the market. From 28 January 2013 consumers will be able to sign up to a Green Deal finance plan, but in the meantime providers, assessors and installers can take steps to obtain the requisite authorisation. Details in relation to the Green Deal scheme are available via the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s website here.

The Green Deal scheme is managed by the Green Deal Oversight & Registration Body, whose role includes maintaining a register of all authorised Green Deal providers, assessors and installers. The GDORB will also monitor Green Deal participants to ensure that they are in compliance with the Green Deal Code of Practice, available here.