Allocating Protections on the Land Register: A Case Study from Scotland

Research output: Working paper


A key question for any system of registration is whether, and if so to what extent, there is to be protection for those who seek to acquire property rights. If the protection is weak, or non-existent, an acquirer must work hard to verify the title which is being on offer and, even so, runs the risk that the title will be bad. Conversely, if the protection is strong, the task of acquirers is correspondingly light: they can rely on the information on the register, eschew independent inquiry, and sleep easy in the assurance that the newly acquired title is inviolable. Within the last fifty years, Scotland has changed its mind on this issue no fewer than three times. Beginning with a system which conferred almost no protection at all, Scotland moved, in 1979, to one where the protection of acquirers was virtually absolute. Finally, legislation passed in 2012 restricted the protection of acquirers, and sought to balance that protection with better protection for the ‘true’ owner, ie for a person who, while not taking part in or authorising the current transaction, is (or ought to be) the owner of the property. This paper explores the reasons for these sudden and violent changes of policy, and the light which they shed on the nature of land registration.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Edinburgh, School of Law, Working Papers
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2014

Publication series

NameEdinburgh Law School Working Papers


  • land registration
  • title by registration
  • Scotland
  • law reform


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