The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr Michael McDowell, T.D., has appointed tomorrow, Saturday, 4 November, as the date on which the new Property Registration Authority takes over responsibility for the registration of land in the State.

The Authority will have its first meeting tomorrow. Its main functions, which are set out in the Registration of Deeds and Title Act 2006 enacted earlier this year, are to modernise and extend the registration of ownership of land in the Land Registry.

The Tanaiste said "The reforms to the land registration system contained in the new legislation - which represent the most significant reform of the Land Registry and Registry of Deeds since the foundation of the State - are intended to simplify the procedures involved in buying and selling land and to reduce the delays and extra costs that frequently arise in land transactions. They will also pave the way for a system of e-conveyancing of property which will revolutionise the conveyancing process for the benefit of private individuals and business alike."

The new Authority takes over control of the Registry of Deeds (founded in 1707) and the Land Registry (founded in 1891). The Chairperson of the new Authority is Gerry McCaughey, Chief Executive of Kingspan Century (full list of members attached).

The Tánaiste added: "I am confident that the members of the new Authority - under the capable leadership of Gerry McCaughey - together with its dedicated and competent staff will give a new impetus and direction to the modernisation process and provide an enhanced quality service for its many customers. On behalf of the Government, I want to take this opportunity to wish the Authority and its staff every success in their future work."

The current position is that about 85% of land in the State - including almost all farmland - is now registered in the Land Registry. The key challenge facing the new Authority is to extend registration of ownership to the remaining 15%, especially to housing and commercial property in urban areas. The Tánaiste said that he expected the new Authority to address this challenge by setting ambitious targets for extending compulsory registration in its first strategic plan to be submitted in early 2007.

3 November 2006.


Notes for Editors

Historical background

The Registry of Deeds was established in 1707 and its main function was to combat fraud and forgeries in land transactions by establishing a system for determining priority between documents relating to the same piece of land. While registration did not guarantee ownership of land, it meant that a registered document took priority over later registered documents and documents that had not been registered. The historical context of the Act, i.e. introduction of the infamous penal laws in the early 18th century (including far reaching restrictions on the ownership and acquisition of land by Catholics) is evident in its introduction where it states that forgeries and fraudulent gifts were frequently practised "especially by Papists to the great prejudice of the Protestant interest ..."

The Land Registry was established in 1891 and unlike the Registry of Deeds, it is a register of land ownership. Here again, the historical context is all important. Towards the end of the 19th century, various land purchase acts were enacted which provided loans for tenant farmers to purchase their holdings from landlords subject to annual repayments in the form of land purchase annuities. As these schemes involved the advancing of large amounts of public funds, it was considered that title to the lands in question - which formed the security for the loans and which might have to be sold in the event of default - should be secured by means of registration. Arising from this, the Local Registration of Title (Ireland) Act 1891 established the Land Registry and provided that the registration of title was compulsory in all cases where land was purchased under the land purchase schemes.

Registration of actual ownership of land in the Land Registry is superior to the registration of deeds in relation to land in the Registry of Deeds and Government policy is to extend the former and phase out the latter. This will lead to the eventual closure of the Registry of Deeds. It is however an important national archive and a plan for the preservation and conservation of the documents it contains has been already been announced by the Tánaiste.


Membership of Property Registration Authority

Mr. Gerry McCaughey, Chief Executive, Kingspan Century, Clones Road, Monaghan.

Mr. John Shaw, J A Shaw & Co., Solicitors, Mullingar, Co Westmeath (Practising solicitor nominated by the Law Society);

Ms. Maura Whelan, S.C., 5 Arran Square, Arran Quay, Dublin 7 (Practising barrister nominated by the Bar Council);

Mr. Seamus Carroll, Civil Law Reform Division, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Bishop's Square, Redmond's Hill, Dublin 2 (Officer of Minister for Justice Equality and Law Reform);

Mr. Michael Cahill;

Ms. Brid Carter, Director, Local Government Computer Services Board, Phoenix House, Conyngham Road, Dublin 8.

Ms. Emer Daly;

Mr. Michael Kelly, Securities Policy and Training Manager, Allied Irish Bank,
1 Adelaide Road, Dublin 2;

Mr. Sean McClafferty;

Ms. Una Woods, BCL, LLM, Law Faculty, College of Humanities, University of Limerick.

[Staff Representative to be elected by staff of the Authority.]