UK: "To What Extent?" – Heading Off Title Extent Difficulties Before Doing The Deal

Last Updated: 10 October 2019
Article by Gill Middleton and Paul Haniford

In Scotland, we are in a period of transition between two systems of registration of title to land and buildings, and have been so for the last 40 years. The first system is the old General Register of Sasines, which has been in existence since the 1600s. This consists of hard-copy title deeds, where properties are predominantly described by words only, or by a combination of words and drawings or plans of varying quality, accuracy and scale. The second is the newer, digital Land Register where properties are identified by reference to the Ordnance Survey map.

The Keeper of the Registers of Scotland has a current target to "complete" the Land Register by 2024. The aspiration is that, on completion of the Land Register, it will be possible to consult an online map of Scotland and pinpoint at the touch of a button exactly who owns every piece of land.

Transition to Land Register

Practically, this means transitioning all remaining Sasine titles onto the map-based Land Register. The process of transferring a property into the Land Register is known as "first registration" and it can happen when a property which is still in the Sasine Register is (a) transferred to a new owner, (b) charged (perhaps in connection with a refinancing of the property) or (c) in certain cases, leased. If your title undergoes first registration because of one of these events, you and your solicitor would be involved (to an extent) in that process by checking that the extent of the property shown in the title deeds is replicated accurately on an Ordnance Survey-based map suitable for land registration, and potentially by providing relevant information to Registers of Scotland about the extent of the property occupied and the way the property is accessed and serviced.

However, Registers of Scotland have also been given their own powers to transfer Sasine titles into the Land Register without the owner having taken any of the above steps. This is called Keeper Induced Registration (KIR) and allows Registers of Scotland to effect first registration of a Sasine title without any action or involvement of the owner. The danger with KIR is that Registers of Scotland do not receive information from the property owner and so tend not to have actual knowledge of the property itself in order to recognise issues with title extent, etc. Land registered titles produced through KIR therefore have a higher chance of being inaccurate and problematic.

The 2024 target is ambitious and the reality is that in March 2019 whilst 68.7% of individual titles were already in the Land Register, that represented only one-third of the actual land mass of Scotland. There are therefore many first registrations still to be done. And first registrations can present difficulties, which in some cases might cause a delay in your transaction.

Potential complications

Sometimes there is difficulty in translating the Sasine title deeds onto the Land Register.

It can be tricky to marry an unwieldy verbal description from as far back as the 1600s with the current features of the Ordnance Survey map. This can be for a number of reasons. There may be no reference in the Sasine titles to a plan or, if there is, the plan may not be of sufficiently good quality to allow identification on the modern Ordnance Survey map. It could be that the features of the land have changed over time, such that the historic and current extents cannot be reconciled – we see this often when new roads or buildings have been constructed or replaced. Or, in the most unfortunate scenario, it could be that some of the land has been erroneously transferred to someone else or that someone has started occupying land outwith their title due to boundary features being in the wrong place.

Title problems are not exclusive to titles which are still in the Sasine Register, although it tends to be more obvious when there is a problem with a title in the Land Register because the discrepancy is flagged by reference to the Ordnance Survey map. For a variety of reasons, land registered titles can also be inaccurate or insufficient. They can conflict with underlying Sasine title deeds (perhaps because there are competing Sasine title deeds), other land registered titles and physical occupation by third parties.

The result can be that the title extent of a property is different to what the owner thought it was. This can be a real problem if an owner has already negotiated to sell, lease or finance the property, and the purchaser, tenant or funder is expecting a differing extent. In the worst case scenario, a property "owner" could find themselves in a "ransom strip" situation, where a third party who happens to have a right over land that the "owner" thought they owned, can name their price to allow the transaction to complete.

Potential solutions

No one wants to encounter a title extent discrepancy at any time, but it can be a particularly nasty surprise in the middle of a deal.

There are solutions which can be explored for shortfalls, overlaps and other title extent discrepancies. It may, for example, be possible to have an overlapping title rectified by Registers of Scotland. Or the property owner might be able to negotiate the purchase of any shortfall area in advance of a sale. One other solution might be to obtain title indemnity insurance.

The best solution will depend on the circumstances of each individual case. However, each solution will take time to devise and might require negotiation. It is therefore advisable to consult your solicitor to check over your title deeds as soon as possible if you are contemplating a sale, lease or finance/refinance, preferably even before agreeing your deal.

What can we do for you?

We can carry out an initial title review on your behalf, to identify any potential title problems in advance of a transaction, and we can help you explore and identify the best option to resolve them.

If your property is in the Sasine Register, we can assist you with applying for voluntary registration of your title in the Land Register. This involves submitting your old Sasine title deeds to Registers of Scotland without any transfer of ownership taking place, which will trigger first registration in advance of your deal. When an application for registration is made, the submitting solicitor must certify to Registers of Scotland that the application is correct. With voluntary registration, purchasers are often comforted by the fact that the seller's solicitor has examined the title and certified it to Registers of Scotland, and selling a good and complete land registered property is generally quicker and more straightforward than selling a problematic Sasine one. It also ensures that you are in control of the first registration process, and avoids the possibility of KIR.

Remember – forewarned is forearmed! Stay ahead of the curve. Get in touch to see how we can assist.

Dentons is the world's first polycentric global law firm. A top 20 firm on the Acritas 2015 Global Elite Brand Index, the Firm is committed to challenging the status quo in delivering consistent and uncompromising quality and value in new and inventive ways. Driven to provide clients a competitive edge, and connected to the communities where its clients want to do business, Dentons knows that understanding local cultures is crucial to successfully completing a deal, resolving a dispute or solving a business challenge. Now the world's largest law firm, Dentons' global team builds agile, tailored solutions to meet the local, national and global needs of private and public clients of any size in more than 125 locations serving 50-plus countries.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions