New conveyancing measures: emergency coronavirus bill

The emergency Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill (the “Bill”) was published yesterday (Tuesday 31st March). The intention of the Bill is to provide urgent measures for dealing with the widespread implications caused by Covid-19. It is likely that all three stages of its passage will take place today (Wednesday 1st April). With Parliament’s approval, it is likely that the Bill will become law sometime next week.

Conveyancing

If the Bill becomes law, there are several measures contained in the Bill which will have an effect on how we as conveyancers run our transactions. The full details on the new measures can be found on the Scottish Parliament website, however, we have set out a brief list of the key measures below:

Digital Applications for Registration

Closure of the application record at Registers of Scotland following the Prime Minister’s lockdown announcement on Monday 23rd March has been a popular topic amongst conveyancers. Most conveyancing transactions immediately came to a halt as a result of the closure of the application record, and we have been waiting for news from Registers of Scotland on a “digital solution” to registration, which was referred to in one of their early statements on the matter.

Indeed there are measures within the Bill which will allow Registers of Scotland to accept new applications for registration during the closure of the application record to paper applications. The Bill intends to amend section 21 of the Land Registration etc. (Scotland) Act 2012 (the “2012 Act”), to allow digital applications to be submitted. The Bill notes that the digital applications will need to be submitted in a form which is deemed acceptable to the Keeper. Conveyancers can therefore expect updated guidance on electronic submission from the Registers in due course.

Advance Notices

The Bill also refers to an extension on the current 35 day protection period that is provided under an Advance Notice. The Bill intends to amend section 56 of the 2012 Act, to offer an extended protection period under an Advance Notice of up to 10 days after the application record re-opens for registrations. This will come as good news to conveyancers and lenders for those transactions which have settled over the last week or are imminently due to settle.

Further updates

If the Bill receives Parliamentary approval, potentially by the end of today, we will likely begin to see production of guidance from Registers of Scotland to assist conveyancers on the new measures going forward.

For any conveyancing queries please contact the property team at BBM Solicitors.