Obtaining priority at the Land Registry of Northern Ireland

In light of the closure of the Land Registry and its limited functionality, due to the Covid-19 situation, Associate Solicitor, Gavin Robinson sets out below the current procedure for obtaining priority, insofar as possible, when dealing with registered lands.

As the Land Registry begins to resume some of its functionality, Gavin Robinson (Associate Solicitor) keeps us up to date on how it proposes to deal with applications, going forward from 8 June 2020 (the “Reopening Date”):


  1. any priority note currently registered with an expiry date falling between 25 March 2020 and the Reopening Date, will expire on the Reopening Date;


  1. any priority search application received by the Land Registry on or prior to 24 March 2020 but not yet registered, will have a priority period of 40 days from the Reopening Date; and


  1. any priority search application received by the Land Registry from 25 March 2020, will have a priority period of 40 working days from the Reopening Date.


Land Registry have advised that service for new priority search applications will resume on the Reopening Date and applicants are advised to lodge these electronically, where possible.


With regard to any application due to expire on the Reopening Date, applicants should ensure that updated online priority search applications are submitted prior to the Reopening Date and that the relevant folio is clear, if priority is still required.


As the Land Registry begins to accept all new applications from the Reopening Date, there will undoubtedly be a large number of these with potential to cause delays in processing times which, in turn, can have an adverse impact on priority search applications.  However, it is key that these challenging times are used positively and as an impetus to adapt to a more streamlined, efficient and technologically advanced priority search function which would benefit the sector for the future.


As and from the Reopening Date Land Registry will accept all other applications for registration which are submitted by post.  The public desk will remain closed for enquiries and hand deliveries.


The information contained in this article consolidates the various guidance and practices notes issued by the Law Society and Land Registry.  However, these are unprecedented times and given the fluidity of the situation and the impact priority can have in the sector, we will be monitoring this issue closely and will keep you updated as matters progress.


If you have any concerns or queries arising from the above, please contact Gavin Robinson gavin.robinson@tughans.com or your usual Tughans contact, who will be able to refer you.

While great care has been taken in the preparation of the content of this article, it does not purport to be a comprehensive statement of the relevant law and full professional advice should be taken before any action is taken in reliance on any item covered.