MP Debate Puts Manorial Rights In Spotlight

Land Registry Figures On Applications Revealed By Business Minister


More than 73,000 applications have been made to the Land Registry related to historical claims on land rights across England and Wales in recent months due to the recent deadline for registering such concerns, it has emerged.

Business minister Michael Fallon confirmed the figure in a Westminster Hall debate on manorial rights, which include mineral excavation as well as sporting and hunting issues.

MPs involved in the debate said that the issue of the rights had caused some concern to property owners in recent months, who have received letters from historical landowners who are looking to confirm their use of the rights.

Albert Owen, Welsh Labour MP for Anglesey, who tabled the debate said action was needed on the issues.

He explained: “Many people pay for conveyancing, have paid for searches, and believed that they had full freehold and were unaware of these overriding rights, so I think that in the 21st century, those people need the right protection.”

Mr Owen added that the Land Registry should consider “how it deals with issuing notices and the legal tone of those notices”.

Expert Opinion
Manorial rights (and chancel repair liability) became ‘overriding interests’ under the Land Registration Act 1925 and continued to affect land even though they were not mentioned on the register and, in practice, were virtually impossible to discover.

"Following the Land Registration Act 2002 such overriding interests ceased to be enforceable if they were not registered by mid-October 2013. It is for that reason that there has been a rash of registrations over the last few months, many in the last few days before the cut-off date.

"It should be remembered these are not new rights. Assuming that they do affect the land - and registration of a notice doesn’t mean that the claim is valid - they always existed and it is purely because they were overriding interests that they did not need to be registered – and so landowners would not have known about them.

"If people receive letters related to such issues, they have two options. The first is to do nothing, as essentially nothing will have changed.

"Alternatively, the registration of such rights could be challenged. A landowner is entitled to apply to the Land Registry for the notice to be cancelled and the Registry will then give notice to the person claiming manorial rights, who can then either accept the cancellation or object to it.

"It should be remembered however that the latter option could potentially lead to significant and time-consuming legal battles, so it would be wise to take care on this point."
Martyn Holland, Consultant