Land Registry’s eight Local Land Registrars are our senior local lawyers with day-to-day involvement in applications for registration.
It’s their job to make final decisions in the more complex, sensitive and contentious land registration cases while leading their knowledgeable and experienced legal teams and working with their colleagues as a national team.
In the third of our series profiling our Local Land Registrars, we introduce Sally Cater and Colin Oakley.
Sally has no regrets about her decision to join Land Registry 20 years ago because the work has never failed to challenge her.
“You are always learning something new,” said Sally. “You do more law in Land Registry, you consider more legislation and the application of the law, than you ever would in private practice.
“If the answer was easy it wouldn’t come to us. Our colleagues refer cases when the answer isn’t obvious and then it’s up to us to make a pragmatic decision exercising sound risk-based judgement.”
After a law degree at Nottingham University Sally completed her training at a firm in Cardiff and was an associate in the property department at Morgan Bruce (now Blake Morgan) in the city when she applied to Land Registry.
Sally has kept close ties with private practice – not least because both her husband and daughter are solicitors.
A fresh connection has come via our recently recruited Assistant Land Registrars, three of who have joined Sally’s now 12-strong lawyer team at Wales Office.
“What’s great is the different skills and knowledge they have brought to the mix to add to the considerable experience we already had,” she said. “They can help us with digital awareness and recent litigation experience in private practice.
“Their training here is really a mutual sharing of knowledge, experience and skills.”
As a Local Land Registrar, Sally is constantly involved in people and project management as well as in the particular specialisms of Wales Office. Sixty per cent of first registrations are processed in Wales Office, as are all citizen applications.
“Citizens often ask for decisions to be reviewed by me and the daily interaction can be challenging,” said Sally. “It’s a large part of my role to provide support not only to the lawyers I manage but also to the team leaders and caseworkers as those applications progress.”
Whatever the nature of the case, however, the integrity of the register is always the first and foremost consideration. “All Land Registry lawyers have the responsibility to maintain the integrity of the register at their very core,” said Sally.
As a relatively recent arrival, Colin has looked at Land Registry with fresh eyes and been genuinely impressed by what he’s found.
“I was pleased to see how well oiled Land Registry is,” said Colin, who took up his post in December 2014. “Bearing in mind what it does and how much it processes it really does do a fantastic job. It greases the wheels of the property market quietly and unassumingly.
“From day one I was impressed by the level of experience, expertise and commitment of Land Registry staff. The knowledge here is quite amazing among both caseworkers and lawyers.
“Within the Local Lawyer Group there is a large number of people who have a vast knowledge of how land registration works while our new lawyers have brought fresh thinking. The combination works really well.”
Before joining Land Registry Colin worked as a property development lawyer at Pinsent Masons in Birmingham after a law degree at Sheffield University and further training at the College of Law in York.
He then spent six years in the property, family and trust law team at the Law Commission, working on a number of projects including the early stages of the recently published consultation on the Land Registration Act 2002.
Colin sees the role of Local Land Registrar as combining the best of both earlier phases of his career. “The Law Commission was very detailed and you could work on a project for a long period of time while in private practice you are working to shorter deadlines and with less continuity,” he said. “I saw this role as part way between.
“It’s very varied. I really enjoy the technical side of things but it’s also a great opportunity to be involved with people and in strategic planning as well.
“My priority is always to do what’s right. Customers rely on us to act with integrity and while you may not always be able to do what is wanted, you have to be professional and honest in the way you deal with them.”
Colin leads a team of lawyers at Croydon and Weymouth offices.
Read profiles of our other Local Land Registrars: