Goal-line technology

The Brazilian World Cup is giving a debut to both goal-line technology (to aid refereeing decisions about whether the ball has crossed the line) and a special vanishing spray to make sure that defensive walls are stood 9.15m (10 yards) from a free kick. Those of you who watched the France v Honduras game will know though that the goal line technology still caused a degree of confusion for those watching.

Land Registration, like football, has undergone significant changes over the years, but you can never forget the past, the history and of course the rules, some of which have been in place for many years. From a registration perspective, land law remains largely unchanged over the decades and many basic principles remain, irrespective of how far technology has come during the same period.

Understanding where a legal boundary lies is just one example of where there’s still room for doubt, no matter how much digital imagery, satellite positioning or laser measurement you use.  Every property has precise legal boundaries.  These are the invisible lines separating the land owned by one person from that owned by a neighbour. They may or may not coincide with the physical boundary features on the ground like fences or walls and are not shown on Ordnance Survey maps. People will often look at a plan or a map and think it shows the legal boundary but it doesn’t, even if someone has added a specific measurement as well. The difficulty is that, just as a referee may spray the defensive wall’s 9.15m line where he thinks it is, the measurement may not be precise because we don’t know where the person measured from, for example, the inside or outside of a 6 inch thick fence post or a three brick course width of a boundary wall?

How we’ve measured land has changed dramatically over the decades, from rods and chains to satellite navigation and laser technology. A bit like a referee striding out 10 yards one day and then spray painting the distance 25 years later, or a Russian linesman flagging for a goal in 1966 when German digital wizardry might say “No Goal” now. From a registration perspective, we can’t simply ignore how land/property has been measured and sold over the decades just because we have modern techniques to measure a distance, as it may have been measured quite differently in the past.

Reaching agreement about where your legal boundaries lie often comes down to you and your neighbour, unlike the football pitch, where just about every decision is questioned and argued by players, coaching staff, fans and TV pundits!

By AdamH,
Customer Service Representative at HM Land Registry Head Office