A spokeswoman for Land Registry said solicitors and their clients can minimise the risk of fraud by making sure the property is registered. Is this so that a would-be fraudster can identify a vacant property, check to see if it is registered (through the Registry) and, if so, assume the absent owner’s identity and fraudulently sell the property? Before registration and dematerialisation of deeds, we actually had to ask the client for the deeds to the property – so unless the fraudster had in some way secured them, the fraud would not so easily be perpetrated.

Why not create a public and private register with each property/land title. The public register has the property details and the private register has the registered proprietor personal details (identification/photographic proofs and so on – similar to the form ID1 which already exists as a Land Registry form). The private register is available only to the registered proprietor and their appointed representative.  

At least this way a seller’s solicitor can check whether the client they are acting for is the same as the registered proprietor. Time-consuming and expensive – but it might be cheaper than compensation payouts for fraud.

Julian Field, director, Thursfields Solicitors, Kidderminster