It is not unusual when buying property to discover a unilateral notice in the charges register, registering any interest that a third party has in the property or estate, for example, historic mining rights.
Usually, this is nothing to be concerned about and you can apply for the unilateral notice to be cancelled, requiring the person who entered the notice to prove the validity of their claim.
More often than not the notice relates to historic rights and when we ask for unilateral notices to be cancelled there is usually no objection.
However, we have had a recent case where we discovered a unilateral notice from the Duchy of Lancaster on a property being sold by our client. The notice was in respect of manorial mines and minerals ‘saved to the Lord of the Manor of Newcastle-under-Lyme (Duchy of Lancaster)’.
A request was made for the unilateral notice to be cancelled to avoid unnecessary complication or delay, but, instead of simply agreeing to this, as would normally be the case, a letter was received informing us that the Duchy of Lancaster objected to the removal of the unilateral notice. In this case, we were able to liaise with the buyer’s solicitor and the sale did proceed.
However, it is not clear why an objection was made to the notice being removed. It might signal a change of policy by the Duchy of Lancaster in relation to such notices.
When an application to cancel a unilateral notice is made to the Land Registry, the registrar will serve notice of the application to the beneficiary who has 15 working days to object the application, providing evidence of the validity of the interest claimed. If the beneficiary does not object in that period or fails to show an arguable case, the notice is cancelled.
Disputes about whether a notice should be cancelled are referred to a Land Registry tribunal at which both parties can make representations.
If you need help to cancel a unilateral notice relating to your property or any advice about buying or selling residential property, please speak to Sophie Ellis, residential property solicitor, Sophie Ellis, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning 01782 205000.