In light of the Coronation of King Charles III at the weekend, we have taken the opportunity to consider how much has changed in Conveyancing since the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953.
The modernising of the Conveyancing process and the commitment of the industry to reducing transaction timelines means that the conveyancing process today bears little resemblance to that in 1953, although there is still much work to be done. Land law and the law of property however, remain largely unchanged.
One of the main differences in conveyancing in 1953 would have been the absence of the Land Registry as we know it today and as a result the unregistered land. The Land Registry was established in 1862, but it wasn’t until the Land Registration Act 1925 that registration of land owners became compulsory; However, the system was not fully computerised until the 1990s so in 1953, conveyancers relied on manual searches of local archives and registers to establish ownership and any existing rights or restrictions on the property. Now it is estimated that 86% of all land in England and Wales has been registered and deeds can be downloaded from the Land Registry in seconds.
Interestingly, much of the land owned by the Crown, the Church and the aristocracy remains unregistered as it has not been sold and therefore a trigger event for registration has not occurred.
The process of exchanging contracts would have been very different. In 1953, this would have involved the buyer and seller physically signing the contract in the presence of their respective solicitors or conveyancers, rather than the more modern practice of exchanging contracts electronically. Documents and contract would have been exchanges in person or by post in 1953, which would have taken several days to arrive and be returned.