Part 1 Introduction

October 2003

50.2 Interpretation of chapter

The contents of this chapter relate to winding-up and bankruptcy proceedings unless specific reference is made to the contrary. Annex 1 defines some of the terms used in this chapter which may be unfamiliar. Where reference is made to ‘land’ in this chapter it will mainly include freehold and leasehold titles (normally where the lease has been granted for more than 7 years).


50.3 General information about HM Land Registry

(Amended March 2010)

HM Land Registry is an agency of the Ministry of Justice and is divided into two departments; the Land Charges Department (LCD) and the Registration of Title Department which is commonly referred to as ‘Land Registry’ (LR). The Chief Land Registrar heads the two departments. Both departments deal with the recording of certain interests in, or charges over, land. See paragraphs 50.9 to 50.10 and 50.11 to 50.17 for detailed information about each department.

HM Land Registry has a useful website,, which contains fact sheets, practice guides, practice bulletins, all forms and the current Land Registration Fees Order (which was last amended in 2009). There is also a property information centre that can provide answers, by e-mail, to many queries. This on-line enquiry system can be found in the ‘questions’ section of the website.


50.4 Land Registration Act 2002

The Land Registration Act 2002 (LRA2002) received Royal Assent on 26 February 2002 and came into force on 13 October 2003. The aim of the Act is to simplify, improve and modernise land registration law. The Act provides a framework for the development of electronic conveyancing. The main changes that affect the official receiver's work are:  
  • creditors' notices have been replaced by bankruptcy notices (see paragraph 50.19);
  • inhibitions have been replaced by bankruptcy restrictions (see paragraph 50.28),
  • cautions against dealings have been replaced by form J restrictions (see Part 7);
  • joint proprietorship restrictions have been replaced by form A restrictions (see paragraph 50.36);
  • leases that have longer than 7 years to run have to be registered (see paragraph 50.7); and
  • many LR forms have been changed details of which are contained in the relevant parts of the chapter.

Full details of the LRA2002 including the Practice Guides, the new forms, the LRA2002 and the Land Registration Rules 2003 (LRR2003) can be found at All of the new forms can be easily obtained from the website.


50.5 Organisation of HM Land Registry

The LR is responsible for keeping and maintaining the Land Register of England and Wales and for recording dealings (e.g. sales and mortgages) once the land is registered. The Registers of Scotland deal with land in Scotland (see paragraph 50.87). There are 24 local Land Registry offices, each responsible for a number of counties and areas in England and Wales and headed by a Land Registrar (see paragraph 50.11). The LCD maintains a computerised record relating to the burdens and charges on unregistered land and also provides data on bankruptcy proceedings (see paragraph 50.9).



50.6 Contacting HM Land Registry

When dealing with a winding-up order or bankruptcy order the official receiver should make contact with the LCD or the LR to protect any land or charge (affecting the land) owned either jointly or solely by the company or by the bankrupt. A brief outline of the procedure to protect an individual’s property is provided in Annex 2. Access to the information recorded by both the LCD and the LR is available to the official receiver to assist in the discovery and/or protection of any land or charge(s) (see paragraph 50.17).


50.7 Compulsory registration

All areas of England and Wales are subject to compulsory registration of title with the LR when land is transferred in the circumstances referred to in Section 4 of the LRA2002. The date on which registration became compulsory varies for each area and details are given in Practice Guide 51 which is available from the Land Registry website,

Registration of a title is also required when a tenant has exercised a right to buy under the provisions of section 154 of the Housing Act 1985.

Owners of land may, generally, voluntarily apply for registration at any time.

Under the LRA2002 leases out of unregistered estates or registered titles for a term of more than 7 years from the date of the grant are compulsorily registerable as are many transfers or assignments of unregistered leases which have more than 7 years to run. Most transfers of registered leases, irrespective of the length of the term of the lease are compulsorily registerable.

Notes: [Housing Act 1985, s154] [LRA2002, s4 and s27]


50.8 Registered and unregistered land

Any land registered under the provisions in paragraph 50.7 is referred to as ‘registered land’. Land which is not registered land is referred to as ‘unregistered land’ (see also Chapter 31.3, paragraph 31.2.23).The owner of unregistered land will have a bundle of deeds, which form a record of previous sales, mortgages and other dealings with the land. However if the land is mortgaged, the lender normally holds the deeds as security for their loan. There is usually no public record of the information contained in the deeds.


50.9 Land Charges Department

(Amended October 2013)

The LCD operates under the provisions of the Land Charges Act 1972. The department maintains central registers of land charges, pending actions and writs and orders affecting land and other mortgages or charges registered against the names of owners of property which is not registered under the Land Registration Act 1925 i.e. unregistered land.

The LCD is situated at Seaton Court, 2 William Prance Road, Plymouth, PL6 5WS. It is to this section of HM Land Registry that notification of the presentation of a bankruptcy petition or the making of a bankruptcy order is sent. Bankruptcy petitions and bankruptcy orders are registered at the LCD whether or not it is known that the debtor owned land and whether or not he/she owns any registered land or registered charges.

Notes: [LCA1972 and LRA1925] - Register of pending court actions and writs and orders [r6.13 or r6.43, Form 6.14, r6.34(2)(a) or r6.46(2)(a) and Form 6.26(LRRABO)] 


50.10 Record of matters affecting unregistered land

The LCD also maintains a record of matters which affect unregistered land. This department maintains a record of restrictive covenants, rights and mortgages relating to unregistered land. These are registered against the name of the landowner at the time the entry was made, rather than against the land or property.

A record is kept at the relevant Land Registry office of cautions against first registration which have been lodged against unregistered land (see paragraph 50.75).


50.11 Land Registry

The LR is responsible for keeping and maintaining the Land Register of England and Wales. Its main purpose is to register title to land in England and Wales and to record dealings once the land is registered. The object of registering title to land is to create and maintain a register of land owners whose title is guaranteed by the State and thus simplify the sale (transfer) and mortgage of such land. A registered title is the legal evidence of title to land.


50.12 The Land Register

The Land Register is a record of all registrations in England and Wales. The register provides an up-to-date official record of the legal ownership and certain other matters relating to the property. When a parcel of land or a charge affecting land is registered, details are recorded in the Land Register. Upon registration a title number

is allocated to the land, although a charge on just part of the registered land may be allocated a different number. If the official receiver is aware of the title number it should be quoted in all correspondence with the LR. The Land Register is split into three parts:-

  1. the property register;
  2. the proprietorship register; and
  3. the charges register.


50.13 The property register

The property register identifies the geographical location and extent of the registered property, i.e. usually the address and a reference to an official plan which is prepared for each title. It may also give details of any rights that benefit the land, e.g. a right of way over adjoining land. It also indicates whether the land is freehold or leasehold. In the case of a leasehold title, it gives brief details of the lease. The official title plan is based on the large-scale maps of the Ordnance Survey.


50.14 The proprietorship register

The proprietorship register specifies the quality of the title, e.g. absolute title. It also provides the name and address of the legal owner(s) and shows whether there are any restrictions on their power to sell, mortgage or otherwise deal with the land, e.g. bankruptcy restriction (previously known as an inhibition).

Land registration is not concerned with trusts and therefore the proprietorship register will not normally reveal that the property is held in trust for another, unless the legal owner is described as a trustee. A partnership in England and Wales cannot own land. If, for example, land is owned jointly by a husband and wife who traded in partnership together, it may be that the property is part of their separate estates or held in trust for the partnership.


50.15 The charges register

The charges register records details of registered mortgages and notice of other financial burdens secured on the property. It does not disclose details of the amounts of money involved. It also gives notice of other rights and interests to which the property is subject such as leases, rights of way or covenants restricting the use of the property.


50.16 Authority for search of the Land Register

Anybody can now obtain information, on payment of any fee payable, which is held on the register of a registered title. Prior to December 1990 only registered owners and persons with the owner’s consent could inspect the register.

Notes: [LRA1988, s112]


50.17 Why search the register?

The official receiver has access to all the information maintained in the Land Register. A search of the Register will be required if:-

  1. the official receiver wishes to ensure registration of bankruptcy proceedings against a title of a specific property or charge;
  2. doubt exists regarding the ownership of a specific property or charge in winding-up or bankruptcy proceedings, e.g. the bankrupt is unsure about who owns property or states that he has never had an interest in a property but has paid the mortgage on it;
  3. the official receiver has received information from a third party indicating possible ownership of a property which has not been disclosed, e.g. a creditor provides specific details regarding the bankrupt having an interest in a property;
  4. the company director or bankrupt is failing to co-operate with the official receiver and a search of the known address may possibly lead to the lodging of a form J restriction (previously a caution) on the property which may result in the company director or bankrupt contacting the official receiver (see paragraph 50.74);
  5. the official receiver suspects that the company director or bankrupt is providing misleading information, e.g. regarding the ownership of property;
  6. in a non-surrender case, the search may reveal an asset of the company or bankrupt and/or possibly the current whereabouts of a company director or the bankrupt.

To effect a specific search outlined in (a), (b) and (c) see paragraph 50.53. A search of the Index of Proprietors’ Names (see paragraph 50.60) or of the LCD (see paragraph 50.64) should only be carried out in circumstances outlined in (d), (e) and (f) above and not as a matter of routine.


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