Across the European Union (EU) there are many countries, languages, and legal systems. So it isn’t a surprise that it is difficult, confusing, expensive and time-consuming to get hold of legal information.
A perfect example of this confusion can be seen in how each country keeps information on its land register. Some countries have strict privacy laws which prevent anyone other than an official or legally qualified person from looking at its register. Other countries, such as England and Wales have had an open register for many years. And if you want to buy property in one country, but live in another, you will have to cope with different languages and unfamiliar processes (often undertaken by notaries rather than solicitors).
Overlay this with the differences in approach to the release of documents and the type of information stored on the register and there is even more confusion.
The EU is working to smooth out some of these difficulties through its e-justice programme. The European e-Justice Portal is a central electronic forum for matters related to justice. It makes life easier by providing information and improving access to justice throughout the EU in 23 languages. It is still developing and is now studying how a standard way of presenting the information might work. It is also analysing how EU citizens can get easier access to land registers.
This won’t happen overnight, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. As a member of the European Land Registry Association and European Land Information Service, Land Registry is helping to shape the future direction of the e-justice programme. It is currently taking part in the feasibility study being undertaken by the EU, the results of which are due to be published later this year.
Find out more about Land Registry international services.