Does Her Majesty’s Land Registry rule beneath the Waves? Guest blog by Greenwoods Solicitors

Jeremy StantonBy Jeremy Stanton, Strategic Land Development Director, Greenwoods Solicitors

The requirements for the registration of land with HM Land Registry are well understood and regularly cited. Registering parcels of land which form part of the mainland of England and Wales is bread-and-butter for most property lawyers. The registration however of land forming part of the seabed is a more novel and complex situation, as was discovered by one of our clients in a recent transaction.

The transaction involved an historic 15-year lease, being granted out of the Crown’s unregistered title of land under the sea, some significant way off-shore. No record of the lease had been registered with HM Land Registry. For the transaction to proceed our client needed to know whether or not there was a mandatory requirement for the lease to be registered. If the lease was capable of registration but had not been posed a potential risk to our client. What therefore is the limit to HM Land Registry’s reach?

Whether such a lease is registerable depends on whether the land being leased falls within the 'internal waters' to the seaward side of the Mean Low Water Mark.

Unless an order is made by the Lord Chancellor, land which falls within internal waters, but outside of the county boundaries of England and Wales (i.e. the seaward side of the Mean Low Water Mark) is not registrable.

If the Land Registry receives an application to register land which appears to fall outside the county boundaries, the Land Registry should first give the applicant a chance to show that this is not the case. If the applicant cannot do so, then the land will not be registered unless the Lord Chancellor makes a specific order in relation to the piece of sub-marine land in question.

If you are looking to buy or sell a fish farm or your business owns or occupies land under the sea, and you need specialist property advice, do not hesitate to contact us. Our dedicated property and agricultural lawyers will be on hand (and suitably equipped) to guide you through any property transaction, whether it’s on land or under the sea!

For more information about Greenwoods Solicitors and the services they provide visit their website.

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