Guidance for professionals

The most up to date information in this fast changing environment is available on the RoS website.

We have created a roundup of the most recently implemented interim measures to assist you at this time (correct as at 10am 30 March 2020).

As you will be aware the UK is on lockdown to deal with the unprecedented health crisis created by Covid-19.

This is intended to set out Registers of Scotland’s current position and provide guidance for those considering completing a transaction at this time.

In response to the unprecedented situation, Registers of Scotland has asked staff to work from home and has closed all registers to paper applications at this time.  We are unable to accept post through any delivery method (whether Royal Mail, DX, hand delivery or other method) therefore please do not send us any documents.  We will update you as soon as there is any change.

Importantly, where an Advance Notice has been registered at this time, the rights will be protected by it, and we will register the deeds fully when the application record reopens.  This approach has been supported by the professorial panel.

Solicitors can continue to apply and renew Advance Notices over registered properties which are Dealings of Whole online as normal.

Property searches are taking place as normal, but please note due to the closure of National Records of Scotland, access to more historic documents in not always possible.

Legal reports are currently operating as normal at present.

1. What do I do if my client is settling a transaction today?

We have worked with the Law Society of Scotland and UK Finance to agree interim measures which are intended to help transactions to complete which, notwithstanding the national health emergency, if:

  1. An inability to complete their transaction would create serious personal or financial hardship to the parties involved;
  2. An Advance Notice has not already been registered or is going to run out imminently, and
  3. But for the registration of an Advance Notice, completion would take place (i.e. all other factors are in place and parties are ready to settle).

Only this is the case, call 0800 169 9391 and select customer services from the options. Please state to the customer advisor who takes your call that you need to settle today.

Whilst we aim to be helpful, please note that Registers of Scotland is unable to offer legal advice or grant consent to the completion of transactions.  We strongly urge those with queries to speak to their solicitor to find out whether completion of their transaction is possible at this time given the specific requirements of their transaction.

2. What do I do if my transaction is due to settle in the coming days or weeks?

If you expect that your client’s transaction will go ahead and you wish to apply for, or renew, an Advance Notice, please email the following teams depending on the nature of your transaction, including the date of expiry of your current Advance Notice and the anticipated date of completion of your transaction.

It is important that you do not call us unless your transaction is due to settle per 1 above.

You can complete our Advance Notice form (available through the eforms section on our website) and submit to the following mailboxes depending on the advance notice you require.

We will deal with these in order of priority so please be clear in your email the date of settlement and the date of expiry of an existing Advance Notice if possible.

EmergencyFRAN@ros.gov.uk – for First registrations

EmergencyTPAN@ros.gov.uk – for Transfers of Part and Development Plan Approval.

These mailboxes are being monitored and we will respond to your enquiry as soon as possible.  When you submit you will receive the following auto message:  Please note we have received your email and will action your advance notice accordingly. This inbox is for emergency requirements for advanced notices only. For all other enquiries please contact our Customer Services team

You can regard this auto message as evidence that your Advance Notice has been submitted and received and will be actioned by RoS.

Please keep checking our website for updates on when the fully digital process is live.  There will be the normal £10 charge for new Advance Notices.

3. When will my Advance Notice be registered and will it show on ScotLIS and legal reports?

Advance Notices will show on ScotLIS and in legal reports once registered.

Dealings of Whole Advance Notices will continue to be processed through the usual automatic registration process, so they will continue to show as registered on the date following submission by the solicitor.

Transfer of Part and First Registration Advance Notices are to be submitted to the relevant email inbox as outlined at 2 above and these will be registered as soon as is practicable by our staff.

The 35-day protection period continues to begin the day after the Advance Notice is registered in the application record or in the Sasine Register (section 58(1) of the Land Registration etc. (Scotland) Act 2012).

Please be assured that our staff are doing all they can to prioritise registration of urgent Advance Notices and deal with other enquiries.  We endeavour to provide an expected timeframe for registering Advance Notices in the near future.

4. What is the Law Society of Scotland’s position?

The Law Society of Scotland agrees that as an interim measure during the Covid-19 emergency, where an Advance Notice has been registered and delivery of the deeds is capable of being effected, then completion of the transaction may occur.  You are strongly encouraged to read the Law Society’s guidance in full.

Solicitors with any queries in respect of the position should contact the Law Society’s Professional Practice team by email to discuss their case.

5. What is an Advance Notice and what is its role in conveyancing?

The two most commonly-used service that Registers of Scotland offers is the registration of deeds and registration of Advance Notices in the Land Register and the Sasine Register.

Solicitors apply for registration of an Advance Notice prior to legal completion of a transaction.  Solicitors then legally complete the transaction and keys and money is exchanged.  Solicitors then apply for registration of deeds after legal completion of a transaction.

An Advance Notice offers comfort in respect of the gap between legal completion and registration of deeds, by offering protection to those named in the Advance Notice that any deeds submitted for registration in their favour over the named property will be prioritised over any deeds submitted for registration in the name of other parties.

This is because solicitors submit deeds for registration in the days or weeks following legal completion.  In recognition of that, an Advance Notice is valid for 35 days.  This period is set out in statute (s58(1) of the Land Registration etc. (Scotland) Act 2012) and cannot be extended by Registers of Scotland unilaterally.

6. What can Registers of Scotland do to help?

We are trying to deal with each and every enquiry we are receiving, but we are receiving an unsustainable number of enquiries relating to transactions where settlement is not imminent which is preventing us from dealing with genuinely urgent cases.

We have asked for emergency legislation to extend the advance notice period to a time when the application record opens fully and we are working on ways that we can accept applications digitally.

If we are given the power to extend Advance Notices then these will be extended free of charge, and in the interim we will not be charging the renewal fee of £10 for Advanced Notices that need to be renewed.

Please note that as we do not have a timescale for enactment of any legislation, and please note that the requested provisions are still subject to the parliamentary process.  We are unable to answer queries on these points at the moment.  We will update our website just as soon further detail is known.

7. Impact on other registers

All of our registers are currently closed to paper documents, including the Register of Inhibitions and the Books of Council and Session.

We are considering all of our registers as part of the continuity work during this period and an update on whether we can accept digital or scanned deeds will be provided as soon as possible.

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