The Land Registry is to change land registration legislation to ensure that alternative business structures (ABSs) can compete effectively with traditional law firms.
A consultation issued today  outlines a series of technical changes to amend the definitions of “conveyancer” and the persons entitled to make electronic applications to Land Registry to be consistent with the providers who, under the Legal Services Act 2007 (LSA), are authorised to prepare conveyancing documents and make applications for land registration purposes.
An impact assessment published with the consultation says: “ABS entering the conveyancing market may lead to increased competition. Putting them on an equal footing with other conveyancers under land registration secondary legislation would further benefit Land Registry customers if the increased competition leads to lower prices and/or a wider range of choice.”
Though the assessment acknowledges the potential for small firms to be adversely affected as a result, it says this arises from the LSA rather than the changes to land registration secondary legislation, which “are merely reflecting changes in the regulatory regime brought about by the LSA”.
It adds: “Consultation carried out by the Solicitors Regulation Authority suggest that ABS will encourage and allow small legal service providers to pool resources with other firms that provide complimentary services.”
Marco Pierleoni, Chief Land Registrar said: “The provision of legal services in England and Wales could change radically with the introduction of alternative business structures in October 2011. The consultation paper sets out the amendments we consider are necessary to the legislation and the processes and practices required to meet the needs of both property professionals and property owners.”