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 second of our series profiling our Local Land Registrars, we introduce Jim Whiteside and Robin Malpas.
Jim joined Land Registry in 1999 after qualifying as a solicitor and working in commercial property at Burges Salmon in Bristol. He previously studied law in Aberystwyth and Exeter.
For Jim part of the appeal of working at Land Registry was the opportunity to concentrate on the technical side of the law in a practical setting.
“You get a chance to get stuck into some of the most interesting technical aspects,” he said. “We come across the weird and the wonderful that practitioners rarely encounter but it’s all about finding solutions to problems.
“We are working with complex and sometimes novel areas of the law but all the time we are trying to reach a practical solution.”
Local Land Registrars and their teams work in partnership with applicants and their representatives but they also have to bear in mind the interests of others in the title.
“Our role is not necessarily to create the register in accordance with the wishes of the applicant but to reflect the true state of the title,” said Jim. “We look at who else may have an interest and ensure that the title we approve adequately reflects those interests.”
Jim and his colleagues are the final point of review for decisions and complaints, providing them with a strong insight into the issues that are most important for practitioners and their clients.
“Because we are seeing things at the end of the process we can see the wood as well as the individual trees,” said Jim.
“Sometimes this means that we can find a solution that has not been apparent before but where that is not the case, the process needs a final point where we say we have done everything we can.”
Jim leads a team of lawyers at Gloucester and Plymouth offices.
Robin studied at Aberystwyth University and the College of Law in Chester and trained as a solicitor at Port Talbot Borough Council, where he worked in conveyancing and litigation among other areas.
He joined Land Registry in 1989 as a legal officer at our Swansea Office and was promoted to Assistant Land Registrar 12 months later. Since then he has worked at various offices and in various roles, including as Land Registrar at Plymouth Office for 16 months.
Robin says the role of Local Land Registrar requires “a broad range of skills”, with three main elements to the job alongside leading and managing his team of lawyers at Nottingham Office.
“The first is providing advice to my colleagues, whether lawyers or caseworkers,” he said. “The second is representing Land Registry in making the final decisions on individual cases and reviewing challenges to legal decisions and complaints.
“Thirdly we provide assurance that Land Registry is doing everything required by the Land Registration Act and Rules and our internal practice and procedures.”
Robin believes our lawyers achieve a “remarkable” degree of consistency in their decision-making, given there is often more than one answer to a legal question, but can improve still further. “We are always striving to be as consistent as we can,” he said.
Robin is responsible for the training programme for 15 newly recruited Assistant Land Registrars who join Land Registry this month (September).
“We have a strong lawyer team at Land Registry and new people coming in will only strengthen the group,” he said. “They’re a good mix of people, some very experienced and some fairly new to the legal profession.
“We hope they will bring ideas that will further strengthen the skills we have as a group.”
Read profiles of our other Local Land Registrars: