Plans to extend Land Registry’s remit in the run-up to possible privatisation could face a court challenge from an organisation representing private search agents.

The Association of Independent Personal Search Agents (IPSA) said last week that it had begun judicial review proceedings to challenge proposals that the Registry take over local land charges services from local authorities.

In the consultation Ed Lester, chief land registrar, says the move ‘would mean that Land Registry would be better placed to serve the changing needs of our customers’.

The consultation coincided with a government proposal that the bulk of Land Registry be turned into a ‘service delivery company’.

Steve Davies, chief executive of IPSA, said that the land charges consultation had set a deadline of eight weeks rather than the government’s guideline minimum of 12. He said that the rush suggested an intention to ‘fatten up’ the registry before a sale.

The Law Society has set up a group to study both consultations. ‘We are taking informal soundings from members of the profession to formulate our response,’ said Jonathan Smithers (pictured), chair of the Society’s conveyancing and land law committee.

He said that an absolute ‘red line’ for the profession was that the government retain the ‘inviolable nature’ of statutory guarantee of title.