HM Land Registry has revealed that it is seeking solicitors’ opinions on reforming CON29 searches as it begins the process of migrating local land charges information in England into a central digital database.
The Registry’s new director of transformation, Karina Singh, told the Gazette last week that land charges data from ‘four or five’ local authorities should be migrated to the new central database this summer – the first step to standardising local search data. Data from 26 authorities is due to be available from the ‘national Local Land Charges register’ by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, the Registry has agreed with the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government to review the CON29 local search process to feed into the ministry’s consultation on improving homebuying. The Registry would welcome solicitors’ input, Singh said, adding that there were no plans to remove CON29 searches from local authorities.
Singh said that the aim of creating a national register was to eliminate regional variations in the speed, format and cost of LLC searches. ‘The cost can range from £3 to £76, and the time it can take varies from two days to 10 weeks, so that’s not good for customer services or the conveyancing process,’ she said.
Critics, including the Law Society, have questioned the need for centralisation and raised concerns that historic data currently held by local authorities would be lost.
However searches business Search Acumen described the move as ‘a hugely positive development for conveyancers’ and other professionals. ‘Once all 326 local authorities have shared their data with the central register, solicitors and conveyancers will save millions of days a year in unnecessary waiting times – and property buyers will save millions of pounds in unnecessary costs,’ said managing director Andrew Lloyd.