group of image of the Keeper with seven fellow attendees at the ROTC in Australia

Registrars of Title Conference 2018

Earlier in the month Keith Taylor (who leads our Buying and Selling team) and I travelled to Australia to attend the 3 day combined Registrars of Title Conference and the Land Registration Development Officers conference. Upon landing in Canberra we were asked by the immigration officer why we were travelling to Australia? We explained, and he asked if it was going to be an interesting visit. We told him it was – and 72 hours later, when we were back at Canberra airport heading home, we had been proven right.

Keith Taylor and the Keeper outside a building at the ROTC in Australia

So what did we learn?

Firstly – and perhaps most importantly in my first year as Keeper of the Registers – I learnt that I have fantastic, knowledgeable and supportive colleagues around the globe. We all operate a similar system of Land Registration – albeit under different legislation and with some subtle differences – but the basic challenges we all face: accurate mapping of first registrations, dealing with competitions in titles, preventing property fraud, and operating efficiently, to name but a few, are the same. Building a network with my fellow Registrars and knowing that I could contact them for advice or to see how they have tackled a particular challenge in their jurisdiction is invaluable.

Secondly we learnt that everyone is on a journey to bring in digital systems to support land registration. Some jurisdictions are further through this journey than we are in Scotland – and that is useful for us as we can learn directly from how others have tackled the challenge. And of course new digital ways of working bring with them their new challenges – such as effective use of automation, different ways of verifying identity, the use of digital signatures, and cyber security.

Thirdly we learnt how different jurisdictions are thinking about getting even more value from the data that is held in Land Registries – both in terms of how the aggregate data can be used in different and novel ways – but also at an individual level how data can be joined up across government agencies to support property owners in really getting a joined up service from all parts of the government that deals with how they own, use and pay for their property.

Fourthly we learnt that the world of property registration will not stand still. The future holds new challenges around the registration of property rights in a three-dimensional or even four-dimensional space as people want to secure ownership rights of what is under the ground, above the ground – and potentially time-limited.

The Keeper in front of a screen showing the buying and selling video to an audience of people at the ROTC in Australia

And last – but by no means least – I had a speaking slot to share the work that Registers of Scotland is doing in trying a different approach to supporting our customers who are working to buy or sell property. Below Keith shares his reflections on what he learnt – and will be able to take back to the office – in terms of the feedback we received on this new approach.

Jennifer’s speech reflected on recent events within Registers of Scotland, highlighting our current challenges and process improvements we are trialling to benefit our customers. Part of the presentation contained a video clip of the staff involved within the Buying and Selling team expressing their thoughts on being part of a new service. This really struck a chord with some of the attendees and a few expressed an interest in learning more. Face to face visits with our more ‘local’ contemporaries are being arranged and once we can agree a time when everyone will be awake, we will catch up with the southern hemisphere ones by Skype.

I realise now that, in my conversation with the immigration officer, I was under-estimating the conference by simply thinking it would be interesting – I should have told him that not only would the visit be interesting – but also that it would be thought-provoking, challenging, useful and educational – and great fun! What more can you want from a week at work?

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