The government’s proposed vision for a private Land Registry could create a monopoly business with an incentive to abuse its position, the government’s own competition watchdog has warned.
Responding to a consultation on plans for a privately owned ‘NewCo’ to take over Land Registry’s operations, the Competition and Markets Authority said that ‘there is a significant risk’ that a business engaged in both the supply of monopoly data and the supply of commercial products based on the data ‘would not maintain or improve access’ to the data.
The new vertically integrated business might also be tempted to ‘degrade the terms of access to its monopoly data in order to weaken competition to its own commercial products’.
The authority adds: ‘While these risks are not unique to privately owned monopolies, our view is that they may be sharpened by the introduction of a profit motive.’
It recommends that the best way to guard against competition risks would be to split Land Registry into monopoly and commercial divisions, and preventing the monopoly business from developing commercial products.
The consultation by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on Land Registry’s future closes on Thursday. It has already attracted critical responses from bodies as diverse as conveyancers, City lawyers and trade unions.
Last week’s Queen’s speech revealed that a sale would be enabled by the Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill, due to be introduced this parliamentary session.