As was confirmed in the Queen’s Speech last week, the Government are pressing ahead with plans to privatise the Land Registry, in addition to plans regarding the rolling out of high speed broadband and housing supply issues.
The Land Registry performs a rather unique role in England and Wales and, most essentially, provides impartiality and scrutiny to the property sector. An incredible amount of information is held and controlled by the Land Registry, a lot of which is then made public. Grave concerns surrounding the control and protection of this information. A private enterprise will surely seek to use the currently-public information as a money-spinning exercise. The creation of a monopoly market is worrying to say the least.
A further concern is the way in which a company would use the commercially sensitive information of other companies dealing with land. Currently, the Land Registry is able to redact sensitive information from the public registers which prevents other companies using such information to their advantage. Even if this facility remains available, the danger of abuse is all too clear.
The Government has made some vague noises about the safe-guards they were planning. In short, the safe-guards would have to be substantial and wide-reaching to prevent the problems being predicted with privatisation. We await further detail with great anticipation and trepidation in equal measure.
‘Selling Land Registry as a single private enterprise stymies all of this. Any buyer will surely seek to retain exclusive or privileged rights to data for themselves rather than continue to make it accessible to all, creating an unaccountable monopoloy.’