Sharing the learning in Dubai

Blog by Christopher Kerr, Land Register Completion Manager at Registers of Scotland.

I’ve just returned from Dubai, where I was attending the IPRA-CINDER conference for 2016. IPRA-CINDER is an organisation that brings together land registration academics and professionals and gives an opportunity to discuss current experiences and challenges.

It was a great opportunity to meet with land registration colleagues from all over the world, and to hear about the challenges they were facing and the innovative ways in which they are trying to tackle them.

There were lots of interesting presentations from various jurisdictions. In particular, I was struck by some of the 3D mapping systems being used around the world. 3D mapping allows properties to be reflected on the vertical scale (where ownership is layered, such as a flat in a tenement), rather than being reflected on a flat map and using a textual component to identify the precise location within the building. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Dubai is well advanced along this route, and it was very useful to see as we continue to work through ideas and options for our future mapping requirements.

I moderated a session on how acquisition by possession/prescription works in various systems around the world. I spoke about the prescriptive claimants rules in Scotland, and we also heard about systems which rely on possession alone (adverse possession) and systems which have no such concept at all.

One of the real comforts I took away as the week progressed is that, despite us all having different legal systems, different population spreads and different topography, the main challenges facing land registration systems are really very similar. Where problems seem intractable, we can look to colleagues in different systems, them to us, and learn from each other.

But one of the final sessions struck a completely different chord. It was titled ‘registration for peace’, and we heard from a number of land registration staff who worked in areas where there had been unrest and armed conflict as a result of land disputes. They explained the crucial role that land registration systems can play in avoiding such conflict in the first place, and also in securing the peace in post conflict discussion. It reminded me that our issues are not always the same – and sometimes we should be very thankful for it.

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