Public availability of land and mortgage registers is a significant factor for the reliability of real property transactions. Despite that until recently, statutory regulations did not support practical application of that principle in a manner that would  correspond with the level of technology and needs of the public. Modifications in that regard are introduced under the Act on Amending Act on Land and Mortgage Registers of 24 May 2013 (Journal of Laws 2013, item 941) to become effective on 1 December 2013. The act marks yet another stage of the project Introduction of e-Services for the Purposes of Land and Mortgage Registration being part of the project Introduction of e-Services in the Ministry of Justice.

Above all, the amendment to the act provides public access to land and mortgage registers via the Internet, making it possible for everyone to inspect the relevant land and mortgage register upon entering its number. In other words, anyone who knows the number of a specific land and mortgage register may inspect its contents without  once leaving their seat in front of the computer screen.

The amendment also extended the list of documents issued by the Central Information Office of Land and Mortgage Registration. Staring from December, in addition to the currently available copies of land and mortgage registers and certificates on closing a land and mortgage register, an applicant will be able to obtain specific information required by him or her in the form of an excerpt from the designated section of the land and mortgage register. Until now, it was only possible to obtain a copy including all the details entered into the land and mortgage register.

The Central Information Office has also seen its powers extended as regards the ability to accept applications, via the Internet, for a copy of a land and mortgage register, excerpt from a land and mortgage register, or a certificate on closing a land and mortgage register. The application may contain a request for personal collection of the document by the applicant at a branch of the Central Information Office, for the documents being delivered by post to the address designated by the applicant, or for an on- line printout of the document by the applicant himself or herself. Such a document printed out by the applicant himself or herself will have the same status as a document issued by the court, providing it has features that enable its cross-checking against the details included in the central land and mortgage register database. This way, the applicant will  be able to obtain conveniently and expeditiously a document that he or she will be able to use as part of their legal dealings. As an aside, it is worth noting that a similar solution was previously employed with success for copies of the Business Register of the National Court Register.

Thanks to the amendment, which introduces an arrangement whereby land and mortgage registers can be searched based on predefined criteria, enforcement against real property will  become easier. For instance, a court enforcement officer will be able to run a fast search of all the land and mortgage registers maintained for real properties owned by the relevant owner. Unrestricted (i.e. repeated and unlimited in time) searches of electronic land and mortgage registers, following approval of the Minister of Justice, will be available to the police, tax audit authorities, tax authorities, Supreme Audit Office (NIK), Social Security Institution (ZUS), courts, public prosecutor’s office, court enforcement officers, notaries public, and the State Treasury Solicitor’s Office.

Summing up, the amendment under review  is without any doubt a step in the right direction, as it ensures  public,  free  access  to  land  and  mortgage registers via the Internet. By the same token, the amendments made will make it easier to establish the assets of a debtor as well as enhancing effectiveness of enforcement and financial security of businesses.