LR News No. 27
A Message from the Land Registrar
For the last four months, business has been booming. It was not a good time for services to be disrupted. But that is what happened for four days in October. On 22 and 23 October, severe system instability affected internet searches for most of the day. On 24 and 25 October, the instability was confined to the morning hours but still affected a large number of customers.
I would like to thank all customers for their forbearance and patience during the period of disruption while we sorted out the problem. I would also like to thank all staff for their initiative in managing the problems and setting up work-around measures to deliver services to customers. On 24 October, despite the continuing instability, nearly 39,000 searches were completed, the highest number ever for one day.
I very much regret the disruption caused to customers during the incident. While the immediate measures taken in response have dealt with the instability to internet services further steps to give assurance of more reliable services in future are being taken. These are noted later in this newsletter. We will not rest in our endeavours to deliver the best service to every customer at all times.
On that note, I would like to highlight the release of the e-Memorial Form on 26 November. It is a first step towards eventual electronic lodgement of deeds. The form, available on the Land Registry website, has been used in pilot trials by a number of law firms to ensure that it works well before general release. It contains intelligent tools to help guide users through completion of the form and to prevent common clerical errors. It is free and time saving. It will no longer be necessary to buy and collect pre-printed memorial forms from the Land Registry. This will, I hope, provide a successful model for future development. We want to work with different customers to design, test and deliver improvements that meet needs for improving the efficiency, quality and cost effectiveness of the services that, together, we provide for Hong Kong.
May I wish everyone peace and happiness this Christmas and in 2008.
K A SALKELD, J.P.
The Land Registrar & General Manager
The Land Registry is continuing with its efforts to enhance IRIS to streamline internal operations and improve services to the public. Between July and October 2007, a number of enhancements have been implemented. Examples include:
From 22 to 25 October, internet services were severely disrupted. This followed a major upgrade to the software underlying IRIS on 19 to 20 October. The cause of the disruption was found to be features in the new software reacting unpredictably with the IRIS system. Intensive work with the IRIS contractor and specialist support fixed these problems by the afternoon of 25 October. During the incident, special arrangements were made by Land Registry staff to ensure that all customers with urgent requirements were given the information they needed through our internal systems.
We very much regret the difficulties for customers caused by this incident. We are reviewing our planning for future upgrading work. We are also considering whether we can accelerate work on developing a new system just for search services. We had been planning to do this when the title registration system is rolled out. It will not be tied to either the title registration system or to IRIS, so will be able to provide a more robust service to customers, less affected by any maintenance or updating work on other systems. We will be discussing these matters with customer representatives over the next few weeks to agree on plans for work in 2008
(B) Relocation of Data Centre
Currently, the IRIS production system is housed in a commercial building. In December 2007, we will relocate the system to a government data centre. The relocation will result in a reduction of operating costs and enhanced system reliability, as the government data centre is better equipped with support facilities such as backup power supply. The main system will not be available for use from 22 to 25 December. Special arrangements for search services from 23 December and for lodgement of deeds on 24 December have been drawn up. LRCM No.7/07 has been issued to inform customers of the special service arrangements during the relocation of the Land Registry data centre between 22 and 25 December.
Update: Land Titles Ordinance
The Land Registry has completed examination of all comments received on the working draft of the amendment bill and has given responses to all parties who have made comments. Some of the comments and responses have been posted in the Land Registry's website for the public's information.
Instructions have been issued to the Law Draftsman to prepare the next draft of the amendment bill. The aim is to circulate a final working draft of the amendment bill for comments in 2008.
There was also an exchange of views on the amendment bill with the Councillors of the Heung Yee Kuk at the Third Executive Committee Meeting of the Heung Yee Kuk held on 18 September 2007. Clarification to a number of issues raised by the Heung Yee Kuk was provided at the meeting.
Meet the Clients Session
In response to the positive feedback to the pilot "Meet the Clients Session" on "Common Reasons for Withholding Instruments from Registration" held in March 2007, the Land Registry has conducted seven more similar sessions in July and August for 88 customers from solicitors firms and government departments. The sessions included discussions on points to note to avoid simple errors in preparing instruments and memorials, a refresher briefing to the use of the Memorial Form Easy Guide in our homepage, a forum for experience sharing as well as a tour to our Customer Centre.
The Land Registry would like to thank all participants for their active participation and valuable comments given to us during the event.
Best Frontline Staff Award
Results of the Best Frontline Staff Award for the 2nd Quarter and 3rd Quarter 2007 were announced as follows:
The award presentation ceremony was held on 1 August and 1 November respectively and the Land Registrar was invited to present the awards to the above winners. The result has also been uploaded on the Land Registry website (www.landreg.gov.hk).
Customer Service Survey
The Land Registry had conducted a small scale customer service survey in May 2007 to gauge the customer satisfaction level of the Land Registry's services including registration, search and customer service hotline and to identify areas for improvement to ensure delivery of quality services to meet customers' needs and expectation. The survey report had been completed in November 2007. Major results concerning provision of service and staff performance are listed below:
Overall satisfaction rate with our IRIS Online Services was 69.5%, up from 65.9% last year. We would take follow-up actions on the comments of our customers for continuous service improvement.
Building Management (Amendment) Ordinance 2007
The Building Management (Amendment) Ordinance, except for the provisions relating to mandatory procurement of third party risks insurance by owners' corporations (OCs), came into force on 1 August 2007. The Amendment Ordinance aimed to improve the legal framework governing the incorporation of owners and the operation of OCs. The legislative amendments do not affect the role of registration and filing of the Land Registry under the Building Management Ordinance. Since there are new requirements of making declaration of eligibility, new forms of statutory declaration have been prescribed for use by management committee members of OCs. The new forms are available from the offices of the Land Registry and District Offices, and can be downloaded from the homepage of the Land Registry (http://www.landreg.gov.hk/). The statutory declaration can be made at the offices of the Land Registry and the Public Enquiry Service Centres of District Offices, or before other person authorized by law to administer a declaration (for example, a justice of the peace or solicitor).
Building Management Ordinance Fee Revision in November 2007
Following the suggestion of the Home Affairs Bureau, a set of revised fees under the Building Management (Fees) Regulation has been approved by the Legislative Council in July 2007. The revised fees have come into effect since 1 November 2007. Details of the revised fees are set out below for information:
Sale of 200th set of MDB on CD-ROM
We marked our sale of the 200th set of Memorial Day Book (MDB) on CD-ROM in June 2007! The MDB on CD-ROM contains essential property transaction information extracted from the instruments lodged for registration each day within a calendar year such as nature of instrument, date of instrument, lot and address of property, consideration, etc. Don't miss the chance to get hold of property information useful for property market analysis, valuation and research purposes and call us on 2867 8069 to order your copy.
Performance Pledge 2007/08
Through continuous good teamwork and staff dedication, the Land Registry has achieved all the performance pledges set for 2006/07. We are glad that the targets set for all services were met by 100%.
As part of our continuing commitment to improve the quality and efficiency of services that we provide, we have reviewed our performance pledges and improved some of our service standards. In 2007/08, we have raised the performance target for counter search of computerised land registers (from 95% to 96%), supply of imaged copies of land records (without oversize plans) over the counter (form 95% to 96%) and supply of certified copies of computerised land registers and imaged copies (without oversize plans) over the counter (from 95% to 96%). Besides, new performance pledge for amendment of registered data was introduced.
E-Memorial Form for Lodgement
The Land Registry has launched a free service of providing an electronic memorial form template in PDF format on the Land Registry's website in November. The e-memorial form contains the following features:
With this new service, lodging parties no longer need to purchase pre-printed memorial forms from the Land Registry. They can download the e-memorial form for completion whenever required.
A briefing with demonstration had been held on 6.11.2007 and a pilot run was conducted for 1 week after the briefing for collecting the feedback from selected users before its rollout.
The Land Registry Trading Fund Annual Report 2006/07
The Land Registry released its Annual Report for 2006/07 in October 2007. The report gives a detailed account of the various activities and achievements in the Land Registry over the past year, including service improvements and progress for the introduction of title registration. It also contains an audited financial statement with full account of the financial position of the Land Registry trading fund. The full report can be viewed or downloaded from our website (http://www.landreg.gov.hk). We welcome your comments and feedback. An online survey questionnaire is provided or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Controlling Officer's Environmental Report
The Land Registry's Controlling Officer's Environmental Report for 2006 was released in July 2007 and can be viewed through our website at http://www.landreg.gov.hk/en/public/control.htm (English version) and http://www.landreg.gov.hk/tc/public/control.htm (Chinese version). As Mr Salkeld, the Land Registrar said in the foreword of the report "Maintaining an open, efficient and accurate land register so that people can get on with their lives and business without worry over their property is the preoccupation of our daily business. It is our goal, however, to do everything to the best possible standard, and a necessary element of that is managing our operations in a way that respects the capacity of our environment and contributes to maintaining the health of that environment both for our benefit and for the lasting benefit of our children." We look forward to your continual support to our work in enhancing the sustainable development of Hong Kong.
Update on Implementationof Five-day Week in the Land Registry
The Land Registry has successfully moved to five-day week work pattern with extended opening hours on weekdays on 1 July 2007. In the LR News No. 26 released in June 2007, we have detailed the new service hours. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our valued customers for their support and co-operation in making the implementation successful.
Civil Service Outstanding Service Award Scheme 2007
The Land Registry is committed in delivering high quality and value service to our customers. This has again been recognized in the Civil Service Outstanding Service Award Scheme 2007. We won the Special Citation Award of the Departmental Service Enhancement Award. We will continue to add value to our service and to achieve further improvements.
The Ombudsman's Awards for Officers of Public Organizations 2007
We are pleased to announce that our staff, Mr LI Hon-wah, Senior Clerical Officer, has been awarded the Ombudsman Award 2007 for Officers of Public Organizations in October 2007. Mr Li is the front-line supervisor overseeing the deeds lodgement service in the Customer Centre of the Land Registry at Queensway Government Offices.
The Ombudsman's Award for Officers of Public Organizations aims to commend public officers for their contribution in building up a high standard of customer service and fostering a positive service culture in the public sector. Mr Li's professional attitude towards customer service and distinguished leadership to his team has consistently enabled his deeds lodgement unit to earn customers' recognition. Apart from giving Mr Li our heartfelt congratulations, we would also like to take this opportunity to express our thanks to our customers for their unfailing support to the Land Registry. We will all continue our efforts to be the best in all the services we give
Re-organization of the Policy Bureaux of the Government Secretariat - the Development Bureau
The Land Registry was under the policy portfolio of the former Housing, Planning and Lands Bureau before 1 July 2007. As a result of the re-organization of the Government Secretariat and the establishment of the Development Bureau to oversee policies on planning, land-use, buildings, urban renewal, public works and development-related heritage conservation on 1 July 2007, the Land Registry has been placed under the Development Bureau. The Secretary for Development is Mrs Carrie Lam. The re-organization does not affect the services the Land Registry provides. Instead, as said by Mrs Carrie Lam in her welcome message of the Development Bureau's homepage, the Government is in a better position to respond positively to citizens' aspirations by placing planning, land-use, urban renewal, public works and heritage conservation under one roof. The Land Registry looks forward to continued provision of quality services to the people of Hong Kong.