I’m continuing to send you regular updates to outline the measures that Registers of Scotland (RoS) are taking in response to the ongoing public health emergency resulting from the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and how these measures have been helping your businesses and customers.
The ongoing government guidance states that residential property transactions should, where possible, be postponed and rescheduled. For transactions that can’t be delayed, RoS has been working on a range of digital submission solutions to support the Scottish property market.
It is more than two weeks since RoS successfully launched our new digital portal for the submission of advance notices. This built on our interim process that was introduced to mitigate the impact of the temporary closure of the application record.
I am pleased to report that the digital portal for advance notices continues to perform very well. The feedback we have received from customers has been wholly positive and the Law Society of Scotland tells us that the new process is working effectively and safely for its members.
We are successfully processing up to 100 advance notices per day via the new digital submissions process.
For full details of how the digital solution for advance notices works and to watch a video demonstration, please visit the RoS website.
We are pleased to report that we have successfully completed user testing on our new digital process for the submission of applications and all the necessary risk and information governance controls are now in place. From Monday, 27 April, we will open our new digital submission service to land register applications.
Digital applications are the equivalent of what you would have previously posted to us in an envelope. You do not need to send us physical documents after submitting digitally. For full details and to see a video of how the new process works, please visit the RoS website.
Some land register application types, such as complex First Registrations, may require you to speak to our customer services team: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: 0800 169 9391
Textphone: 0131 528 3836.
We have discussed a proposed phased approach to the opening up of the digital application portal with the Law Society of Scotland and they are content with our proposal. This phased approach will enable us to be confident we can manage the maximum volume of applications we could receive on any given day. We have a good idea of our own capacity but, as noted above, we are not sure how many applications solicitors will be able to actually submit in the current climate.
The first week should give us a good indication of how long it will take to completely catch up on all pending work that can safely be submitted. At that point we would be in position where the digital portal would be open to new settlements as well as those that have already taken place. However again we would be clear that these should only be settlements that can happen where it is safe for all parties to settle, where the settlement is compliant with government guidance, and the paperwork required to achieve settlement can be signed in a manner that is fully compliant with lockdown protocols.
We are very clear that opening up a digital portal is only for those applications which can be accessed, and therefore sent to us digitally, in a manner that complies with government guidance around lockdown, we are in no way wishing to put solicitors under any pressure to access paperwork that they cannot safely access.
The development of this digital solution is part of RoS’ ongoing efforts to support the completion of those residential and commercial property transactions that cannot be delayed while the lockdown measures are in place.
Reopening the application record
The successful launch of a digital system to enable the submission of applications and live deeds will be a significant step towards our being able to formally reopen the application record. The introduction of the digital submission service does not constitute or indicate the reopening of the application record. This will only happen when I am confident it is the right time to do so in consultation with the Law Society.
Law Society of Scotland
Throughout this process, we continue to work very closely with the Law Society to agree that our innovations, such as the digital solutions, are what their members and clients need to settle transactions.
Solicitors with any queries in respect of the Law Society guidance concerning the measures that are in place to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic should contact the Law Society’s Professional Practice team by email to discuss their case.
Why it is important for RoS to remain open at this time
- To process those essential house moves and commercial property transactions that are permitted to take place under the terms of the current Government regulations
- To continue to process those transactions which don’t require physical moves, such as re-mortgages and some commercial property deals.
In line with ongoing guidance from Government and NHS Scotland, our buildings remain closed and all RoS staff who are able to work from home continue to do so.
Our Customer Service colleagues continue to deliver expert support and advice. As of noon on Friday 24 April I am happy to confirm that we have resolved all enquiries that are within RoS’ control. A small number of unresolved cases outwith RoS’ control are for solicitors to resolve on behalf of their clients.
I would like to take the opportunity to emphasise that, for any transaction which needs to proceed and which is not covered by the provisions outlined above, or for any registration service which you need and which you believe you cannot currently access, please do continue to contact RoS Customer Services. In many cases they will be able to solve the problem, or for the more unusual issues they will be able to arrange for one of our senior advisors to speak to you, and we will work with you to find a resolution to the issue.
We continue to update the RoS website with the latest guidance.
A bespoke email address email@example.com is available for general questions about RoS processes and procedures during the Covid-19 outbreak.
If there are is anything else you would like to bring to my attention during this period, please email FAO Jennifer Henderson: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Henderson, Keeper of the Registers of Scotland