The Land Registry 2006/07 Annual Report

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Development Projects and New Services

Reducing stopped deeds

Under the Land Registration Regulations, the Land Registry must withhold an instrument from registration if it does not comply with any of the matters specified in Section 23 of the Land Registration Ordinance. These withheld instruments are commonly known as stopped deeds. In a bid to reduce the number of stopped deeds, the Land Registry issued a Land Registry Circular Memorandum (LRCM) No. 5/05 in December 2005 setting out the Registry's practices on withholding instruments from registration.

As part of our continuous effort to reduce the number of stopped deeds, an experience sharing session on "Common Reasons for Withholding Instruments from Registration" was held in March 2007. The main objectives were to help parties responsible for preparing instruments and memorials to avoid or correct simple and avoidable errors before lodgement and to provide a platform for experience sharing.

Participants of the session included representatives of solicitors firms and our officers from the Registration Services Division and the Legal Services Division. General registration requirements and major LRCMs on registration guidelines as well as the Memorial Form Easy Guide on our website were discussed in the session. The feedback from the participants is encouraging and the Land Registry is going to hold more sessions in mid 2007. We were pleased to note that the stopped deed rate has dropped from an average of 7.1% for the year 2005/06 to that of 6.1% for 2006/07.

There is no provision under the Land Registration Ordinance to allow the Land Registry to strike off instruments which have been withheld from registration but which are not corrected or withdrawn by the lodging party. This has led to a number of stopped deeds being left on the "deeds pending" section of the land registers for extended periods. The existence of these stopped deeds presents conveyancing problems. The Land Registry carried out a pioneering exercise in November 2005 to request the lodging parties to withdraw or return instruments stopped before 11 December 2002 for re-consideration of their registrability. As at the end of March 2007, 386 deeds were duly registered or cancelled, achieving a success rate of 28%.

In June 2006, another similar exercise for reducing deeds stopped between 12 December 2002 and 31 March 2006 was launched. This involved sending out nearly 280 letters and 620 reminders to identified lodging parties. The outstanding stopped deeds were reduced by 33% with 701 deeds being registered or cancelled.

We will initiate another round of requests for returning outstanding deeds stopped from 1 April 2006 in the second quarter of 2007.

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