There are two separate systems for recording transactions in relation to property in Ireland:
• The Registry of Deeds system operated by the Registry of Deeds.
• The Registration of Title system operated by the Land Registry.
Both systems are under the control and management of the Property Registration Authority. The two systems are mutually exclusive in the sense that in a particular transaction relating to land the title will be either:
• “unregistered” (i.e. the title is not yet registered in the Land Registry and so the Registry of Deeds system applies) or
• “registered” (i.e. the title has been registered in the Land Registry and so the Registry of Deeds system is irrelevant).
Approximately 93% of the land in Ireland is registered which represents almost 90% of titles. The primary function of the Registry of Deeds system is to provide a system of recording the existence of deeds and conveyances affecting unregistered property. A failure to register may result in that document losing priority to a subsequent document which is registered. A search in the Registry of Deeds will disclose only whether documents have been executed dealing with the land in question – to discover the effect of these documents the documents themselves (which are not retained by the Registry of Deeds) will have to be examined.
When a title is accepted for registration in the Land Registry the original title documents are retained and permanently filed. A folio is opened in respect of the property and generally it is not necessary to refer to the original title documents again. A certified copy of this folio can be obtained with or without a copy of the map outlining the property.
The title shown on the folio is guaranteed by the State which is bound to indemnify any person who suffers loss through a mistake made by the Land Registry. A purchaser can, therefore, accept the folio as evidence of title without having to read the relevant deeds.
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