The decision to keep the Land Registry within the public sector represents an unlikely volte-face by the Government and a victory for good old-fashioned democracy.
Tucked away (some may say hidden) in the deepest darkest recesses of the new Chancellor’s Autumn Statement was the confirmation that the Land Registry – the trusted custodian of the nation’s property interests – is to remain in the public sector after all.
Having been the subject of two separate privatisation consultations in as many years (the second of which focused on how, rather than whether, to privatise), the government’s intentions seemed crystal clear that privatisation in some shape or form was imminent.
The spectre of privatisation raised inevitable concerns over the impartial exercise of the Land Registry’s quasi-judicial functions and the integrity of the national register it maintains, which currently extends to 24 million titles worth over £4tn.
The controversial proposals sparked a massive backlash from the legal profession, the property sector and the public at large, while a recent Parliamentary debate achieved that rare feat of uniting politicians of all persuasions against the privatisation proposition.
Hill Dickinson responded to both consultations, as well as contributing to Liverpool Law Society’s responses and briefing local MPs on the issues, but there was a gnawing fear that decisions had already been made and we were simply going through the motions.
However, it appears that the Government has listened to the people and accepted defeat. That will come as a massive relief to many people, but it is perhaps unsurprising that such welcome news was buried so deep within the statement.