Who knows where? – service and the Land Registry

Service of notices, claims etc on ‘last known address’ can be a bit of a thorny issue. Not least the question of the extent of reasonable inquiries to find the missing person before the ‘last known address’ can be relied on for service. Thus the intriguing possibilities in:

Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council v Tanna [2017] EWCA Civ 50

This is a planning case, specifically concerning service, and the addressing, of notice under section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 – Oldham intended to demolish the run down property and recover the cost of doing so from Mr Tanna.

We’re not concerned with the particulars of s.215 requirements, (if you are, read the judgment), save that, via s.223 Local Government Act 1972 and s.329 of the T&CPA 1990, the notice was to be served on a person’s “last known address”, if no address had been given for service, or in other words “by leaving it at the usual or last known place of abode of that person”.

‘Usual or last known residence’ is also the default for service under CPR 6.9(2) for individuals.

Now the interesting part is that the court of appeal then turn to Land Registration Rules 2003.

It is, I think, also relevant to consider the rules about the contents of the proprietorship register at HM Land Registry. Unfortunately these were not shown to the judge. When Mr Tanna became the registered proprietor the rules in force were the Land Registration Rules 1925. Rule 6 provided:
“The Proprietorship Register… shall contain the name … and address of the proprietor of the land…”
Rule 315 (1) provided:
“The address of any person, as entered in the register shall, unless he shall direct otherwise, be his address for service.”
The rules currently in force are the Land Registration Rules 2003. Rule 8 provides that the proprietorship register must contain, where appropriate, the name of the proprietor and:
“(c) an address for service of the proprietor of the registered estate in accordance with rule 198”
Rule 198 provides:
“(1) A person who is (or will as a result of an application be) a person within paragraph (2) must give the registrar an address for service to which all notices and other communications to him by the registrar may be sent, as provided by paragraph (3).”
This class of person includes a registered proprietor. Rule 198 (3) goes on:
“(3) A person within paragraph (1) must give the registrar an address for service which is a postal address, whether or not in the United Kingdom.”
Rule 198 (4) enables a person to have two additional addresses (which may include an e-mail address); and rule 198 (5) enables him to give the registrar a replacement address. What is important about these rules is that the address required to be given is an address for service.

And then the Court of Appeal appears to decide that the address given by the proprietor of a property on the Land Registry is a good address for service – if no other address has been provided by the party.

I would hold that as a general rule, unless there is a statutory requirement to the contrary, in a case in which

i) a person (in this case the local planning authority rather than the council taken as a whole) wishes to serve notice relating to a particular property on the owner of that property, and

ii) title to that property is registered at HM Land Registry,

that person’s obligation to make reasonable inquiries goes no further than to search the proprietorship register to ascertain the address of the registered proprietor. It is the responsibility of the registered proprietor to keep his address up to date. If the person serving the notice has actually been given a more recent address than that shown in the proprietorship register as the address or place of abode of the intended recipient of the notice, then notice should be served at that address also.

Now that will make service of notices and indeed potentially claims much easier in some cases. Particularly ‘missing’ landlords/freeholders.

About Giles Peaker

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London.
You can find him on Linkedin and on
Twitter. Known as NL round these parts, and still is Nearly Legal on Google +.

Posted in Housing law - All, Leasehold and shared ownership, Possession and tagged .

37 Comments

  1. In my opinion it is a very short sighted view of the judge. The council should act reasonably. If the council becomes aware that the registered address is not correct , with their knowledge they cannot rely on registered address.
    So if the council is aware how to contact the proprietor but relies on the land registry it is an abusive use of land registry address, sadly the judge has approved of such a wrongful act. Common sense and duty of care has not even been looked into,by our justice system.
    In this case the property was demolished even when it could have halted. This judgement is just to Condoning wrongful act . The judge has granted a mischievous wrong doing to be lawfull

    • Not really. The land owner has a duty to provide a current address to the registry. If the landowner then tries to deny that that address is good for service, they are relying on their own failure as an excuse, which is no good. Anyway, it is ‘last known address’, so could be good even if person/body serving are aware it is not current. Obviously, if they are aware of a current address, they should serve there too.

  2. Did the parliament intended that knowing someone at a different address you rely on land registry. What is the matter with the judge. The judges sometimes just want to rush things. On the same judgement the judge has contradicted the intent of legislation is used when something was not done according to legislation. Surely the whole intent of Land registry is that the correct owner is notified. If knowing that it is incorrect address and admitting it is incorrect address how can the judge make such gross . I suggest people read the whole case and in that context. The summary of judgement is not true

    • Again, you miss the point. The intent of the Land Registry is indeed that the correct owner should be notified. That is why there is a duty on the owner to make sure the Land Registry has a current address for service. If the land owner fails to do that, that is their problem, so the Court of Appeal (three judges, not one) finds. There is a link to the judgment in the post, people are welcome to read it for themselves. As far as the part with wider importance goes – Land Registry notice address as good for service – my summary is perfectly true and accurate.

      If the council (or other person seeking to serve) are aware that the person to be served is at another address, the judgment is perfectly clear that they should be served there too. In cases like that of Mr Tanna, where no other address was known, the Land Registry address alone will do.

  3. The land registry address was not the correct address, in fact the mail was returned. The assumption made was that mail was actually delivered even though it was returned by the post office. How reliable is the post. As it happens there are two same addresses in the same town. How can you be sure that it was delivered? How reliable are the council officials to deliver at the address?
    With due respect sir council were aware of the other address, that is why after two days trial,it was found that the notice had not been served. The council itself found another address and attempted to deliver at another wrong address.
    This judgement cannot and should not set precedent and override any state agency’s responsibility. What is your view if the council is in doubt about address on the land registry should they not look any further?. This sort of judgement are bringing British justice to question, once upon the best, raises question of fairness.
    Is it not a duty of council to take due care in taking drastic action. Also in Ahmed case it was a commercial landlord who had their company registered at the address where the notice was served. I do not see that the council served at another address. The council had Mr Tanna’s email address. This judgement misses the key point and facts to suit in favor of council. It is a skewed judgement. Of course judges are not answerable to anyone.
    The judge misses that person was from environmental officer and called him planning officer. The notice was issued by environmental department.
    The judge actually was defending the council by directing the council to the Land Registry , it was never the council’s argument. The judge has decided to favoour the council against the individual.
    Sadly in this case the judge did not look deep into to seek the facts of the case. The council official
    Is it right that a person seeking to serve notice on the owner of a particular parcel of land need look no further than the entry in the proprietorship register at HM Land Registry in relation to that parcel to obtain a valid address for service on the owner, even when the person seeking to serve notice has reason to believe that the address in the proprietorship register is not a current address for the owner of the land?”; and
    Does s.329(3) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 require any notice posted on premises to which the section refers to be addressed to the owner and any occupiers or is it sufficient for the notice to be addressed to the owner alone or to any occupiers alone?” If some.one says I have put a notice at the property and demolish the property Is that strong evidence. Should they not take photograph or something. This is a biased judgement to the extreme

    • It was your obligation to update the Land Registry address for service. You did not. A defence that is effectively saying that the council could not rely on that address because of your own failure to fulfil your obligations is not very attractive.

      As the judgment notes, if the person seeking to serve is aware of another address for the person being served, notice should also be served at that address. But where no current address is known, the person serving is entitled to rely on the Land Registry address as the ‘last known address’.

      I’m afraid that accusing the court of bias is all too common from people who have lost on the law.

  4. As a matter of fact there were two judges. Please
    Please refer to good practice guidance for issuing s215 notice issued by parliament, if land registry address was to be used than it would have stated . is there a law to keep Land Registry updated? Please look at the lower court judgement which is in detail.

    • Section 198 Land Registration Rules 2003. Landowner must provide an address for service. That is not restricted to the time of registration.

      The lower court judgment is now of no relevance on this issue.

      Yes, two judges – not a judge.

      Mere guidance has no bearing on the law.

  5. You seem to be missing the point. It was not my case. knowledge in this matter is more relevant than mere beleif any prudent decision maker especially judges should take into account.

    • But it was taken into account. Expressly. The court of appeal accepted that someone at Greenfield Close had returned the first letter marked ‘not here!’.

      There has never been a requirement to do everything possible to try to find where someone is now. ‘Last known address’ has been the rule for decades. The only question was whether the Land Registry address could be relied upon, as being sufficient to satisfy the requirement to take ‘reasonable steps’ to try to find a current address. The Court of Appeal said it was.

      If, after taking reasonable steps, the person serving still can’t find a current address, they have always been able to serve on the ‘last known address’.

  6. ‘reasonable step’ what does it mean . A tokenistic search on land registry? surely duty of care This cannot be right? Is it a legal obligation to update land registry? This is serious case of misjustice

    • The court of appeal decided the Land Registry was sufficient as a reasonable step.

      It is a legal obligation to provide the Land Registry with an address for service of notices. That obligation is not time limited.

      There is no ‘duty of care’. That is a concept that lay people fling around, but is only of relevance in tort law. Certainly no ‘duty of care’ to the person one is trying to serve a notice on.

      There is no misjustice that I can see. Not least because there never was any requirement to expend every effort to find someone’s new address.

  7. If Serving of Notice under S.329 329 Service of notices and s.233 of the Local Government Act 1972 was Land Registry Address then why does not not specifically say use Land Registry Address only …. .
    The judges have got it wrong they have foolishly used Ahmed Case and not understood the case. They have used Miah’s case and not understood it properly. The council were not solely relying on land registry they also emailed and also the business address was where the notice was server read s233(7). God help people who have been injustice in Court of Appeal and especially professionals that are getting paid to uphold the role are just accepting highrachy. so if an ambulance exceeds the speed it should have the same consequence as any other. You cannot rely on land registry . In this case if you rely on land registry you have a name of the owner. In this case s215 notice was addressed as “The Owner”. I would seriously advise you to read the case. The judges have skewed the legislation as well as facts. Nobody expects to expand every effort , but due deligence needs to be used by any officials of the state agency. You cannot demolish someone’s property when you know the owner is not been made aware of, and when the owner becomes aware you demolish.
    Can I please ask you if you are a legal professional?

    • In Ahmed, the Court specifically found that the Land Registry address was good for service, despite the Council (a different part of it) corresponding with Ahmed at a different address . The notice failed because of the mode of service.

      In Miah, Cranston J said “The planning department cannot be expected to trawl through the records of the Council as a whole to see whether the registered owners of property have another address in the borough for council tax purposes, by reason of having a market stall or other licence, because they receive some sort of welfare benefit or because their children are in local authority schools.” He then went on to find that the Land Registry address was good for service even though another part of the Council was billing Mr Miah for council tax at another address.

      So what, exactly, had the court of appeal here ‘not understood’ about the Ahmed and Miah judgments?

      Ambulances can’t speed. Except in certain circumstances set out in law.

      The name on the Land Registry – and the address for service – is that of ‘the Owner’.

      I have read the judgment. Several times. Apparently with more attention than you. Your lack of attention being further demonstrated in your final question. Do have a bit of a look around the site – hell, even this very page – and decide if I am a legal professional for yourself.

  8. I am not a lawyer, but will become one day.

    The issue between the parties which the Divisional Court actually decided was whether Newham, relying on s.233(2) of the 1972 Act, could contend that posting by ordinary post was sufficient in that case and thereby challenge the decision of the District Judge (MC) by way of case stated, when it had not relied on that provision at first instance (see the judgment at [22], [26], [27] and also the post-judgment discussion at [66]).
    In Ahmed the Divisional Court did not question or consider the correctness of the finding by the District Judge (MC) that Newham was entitled to post the notice to the Benfleet address. As the court said at [28]:
    “In summary, on the basis of the District Judge’s findings, the Benfleet address was the proper known address for service. As such, the appellant was entitled to serve the notice by sending it by post to that address pursuant to section 233 of the 1972 Act and the District Judge’s contrary conclusion was wrong in law” (emphasis added). The Divisional Court was not apparently taken to any of the authorities The last method of service I need to consider is that permitted under s.233(7) of the 1972 Act
    I really think you are missing the point

    • In Ahmed, the issue of the validity of Land Registry address was determined at first instance, and the Admin Court declined to alter that finding.

      In Miah, the Admin Court’s finding on the Land Registry address as good for service was an express decision. I note you don’t address Miah.

      But in any event, the Court of Appeal has made its own finding, based on the statutory language. It was not following and was in no way bound by Ahmed or Miah, because it is the court of appeal. It was endorsing those decisions.

      It is hardly an uncommon principle, that where notice can be validly served may indeed be a place where the person serving knows that the other party no longer resides. Consider s.196 Law of Property Act 1925. If incorporated into a lease or tenancy, it means a notice is validly served on the tenant if served at the property in the lease/tenancy. This is regardless of whether the tenant is still there. This happens all the time, e.g. for notice seeking possesion on a tenant who has abandoned the property.

  9. The Miah’s case is with respect a flawed decision based on an erroneous distinction between local planning authority and the Council as a whole, and an unthinking reliance on the Ahmed case without really considering what it decided. It does not assist the Court in deciding this decision. The case of Miah is certainly not authority for the proposition that a Council is entitled as a matter of course to use the Land Registry details as the definitive indication of the ‘proper address’ for service.

    • Oh Anita, you are still not getting it. The court of appeal doesn’t rely on Ahmed or Miah as authority! It doesn’t need to. The court of appeal carries out its own analysis of statute in reaching the decision. It is not relying on Ahmed and Miah, it is simply saying that in the findings on the Land Registry, those High Court decisions were right.

  10. I am wondering if there is deprivation of one’s property. Remember this man’s property was demolished rather than secure and he was not even given opportunity to collect his possession, it was just bull dozzed

    • Of course there is deprivation of property. That is why it can only happen in accordance with the requirements of the statutory power to do so!

      If there were belongings left in a abandoned property that was in such a terrible state that it had to be demolished as an issue of public safety, which seems unlikely, then the council would probably have been an involuntary bailee and should have held the belongings for a time to enable Mr T to collect them.

  11. What I fail to understand is that issue is about serving a notice and the legislation states how it needs to be served. s329 , s233 nowhere does it state that Land Registry is to be used.

    • One step at a time…

      S.233 says service on ‘last known address’.

      Court of Appeal says that Land Registry address can be relied on as ‘last known address’, though if a newer address is know, it should also be served there.

      ‘Last known address’ is a common definition for service of notices, across statute and the civil procedure rules. That is why this judgment has broader relevance. ‘Last known address’ is a legal term.

  12. If the council is relying on Land Registry as they purport to be, then why would they address the notice as”owner” and not by name? The council decided that they want to use part of the land registry findings and not all. Surely Land Registry gives the name of the owner.

    Secondly if you look at s329(3) provision that has been used by the council thus there maybe occupiers but when serving the notice it uses the word simply “owners” It is accepted by the judge it is in itself contradicting.

    Can you see now how the judge/s in this case has not only skewed the facts but also the legislation. They have picked the bit about the address from Land Regisrty and 329(3) “owner” ….

    By the way I have got in touch with Ahmed and Benfleet was their registered business address and it was still after the case was heard. Newham was communicating with unconnected matter, so maybe it was appropriate to use that address and Ahmed was sent papers by email too.

    The District Judge drew a distinction between the respondents’ home address and that used for business purposes connected with 43 Rothsay Road, as reflected in the Register. He clearly considered that the Benfleet address was the appropriate address for service and the relevant known address. In those circumstances I do not accept that the new point raises any issues of fact which have not been addressed by the District Judge in his findings.

    I really think you are reaching a conclusion without analysing is misleading. I was always proud of our fair British Justice, but what has happened here is those in power has seemingly abused, their power.

    • Anita – addressing the notice to the ‘owner’ is required by s.329(3). It is prescribed wording. But of course, the Land Registry gives the address for service of the registered owner.

      The ‘addressed to occupiers’ issue is dealt with at 29 -31 of the court of appeal judgment.

      Whatever you are trying to say about Ahmed doesn’t actually work. The requirements of ‘last known address’ don’t vary between commercial owners or residential owners, save that for a limited company, service is on the registered office (this is of no relevance to Ahmed). And the District Judge did find that the Land Registry address served as ‘last known address’, which is the point you are trying to argue against.

      And, hopefully for the last time, nothing that was decided in Ahmed or Miah actually matters! The court of appeal has reached its own conclusion and it does not depend (in interpretation or in precedent) on those cases. The court of appeal is not relying on those cases, it is simply endorsing those parts of the judgments to do with Land Registry and last known address.

      Time to draw this to a close, I think. You have made it clear that you don’t like the judgment and equally clear that you have no coherent legal basis for arguing that it is in error. I don’t think we are going to get any further.

  13. so what you are saying is that you look in the land registry which has your name and address. But you just pick the address and disregard who owns it. The name of the owner is disregarded.
    You enact 329(3) secifically used when the owner cannot be traced and when you want to ensure that the occupiers receive it notice. But when you go issue a notice it is fine that you use “owner” only . You have not put any convincing case. You watch the space there will be a good lawyer who would overrule this.

    Would it be necessary to enact 329(3) as if you know the owner and the address relying on land regisrty. Would you also need to use 329(3) ?
    With due respect you are agreeing with the judgement because it is easy and not seeing the other side of the argument which is factual

    • Anita, I really don’t understand what point you are trying to make.
      The Notice has to be addressed to ‘the Owner’ – s.329(3). S.329(3) comes into play when the land or any part of it appears to be unoccupied. Not when ‘the owner can’t be traced’. Whatever it is you are trying to argue falls apart on that point.

      “Where—
      (a) the notice or other document is required to be served on or given to all persons who have interests in or are occupiers of premises comprised in any land, and
      (b) it appears to the authority required or authorised to serve or give the notice or other document that any part of that land is unoccupied,
      the notice or document shall be taken to be duly served on all persons having interests in, and on any occupiers of, premises comprised in that part of the land (other than a person who has given to that authority an address for the service of the notice or document on him) if it is addressed to “the owners and any occupiers” of that part of the land (describing it) and is affixed conspicuously to some object on the land.”

      The Land Registry records the owner – that is its function and a requirement of legal title to registered land.
      The Land Registry holds the address for service of notices on the owner.

      If this judgment is going to be overturned it can only be by a three judge court of appeal or by the Supreme Court.

      It is worth recalling that the Notice was also validly served by affixing it to the land. Even if the Land Registry point was wrong, the notice was validly served by affixing it to the land.

    • This case could only go to the Supreme Court. Unlikely it will be tried, and frankly unlikely to get permission is it was tried.

      Any subsequent case on the same issue would have to be prepared to lose, twice, before reaching the court of appeal. That would be very expensive. Then have to hope court of appeal gave permission to appeal.

      The odds on that all happening are…. very bad.

  14. I do not agree with your analogy
    I think you are making a lot of assumption based not on fact.
    I think it is lawyers like yourself who do not do justice to their client

    • Anita

      I did not make an analogy. I am not making any assumptions, I am explaining the legal reasoning. If you can’t tell the two apart, you will, I’m afraid, make a very poor lawyer. And this exchange ends here.

  15. Just a thought if a property is registered at A address. The server of the notice is aware that it is not delivered. Should the server still continue to send it to the same address? IS knowledge not better than belief? This is a flaw in the judgement .

    • ‘Last known address’. Basic bit of law. Used throughout the civil procedure rules. It doesn’t matter that you know that the person isn’t there anymore, so long as you have taken reasonable steps to try to establish where they are. You can then serve on the last known address. Looking on the Land Registry is a reasonable step. So you can validly serve on that address.

      This is eminently practical, otherwise people could just avoid being validly served altogether by making sure the server didn’t know their address.

  16. In this case the facts are different so you are making assumption, there is no question or indeed any doubt as established at a trial the server could have served the notice at the correct address. The council in their own evidence were not able to argue the case at the trial. If that failed they decided on a different tact and the judge obviously did not give any bearing to the facts. There were numerous communication with the councils regeneration department and planning and environment are part of regeneration. They have not even got the names or the job title correct in the judgement.

  17. I appreciate what you are trying to say but every case is different.

    The facts of this case is very different no case of of being avoiding validly served , who would do that… It was established over two days trail by councils own evidence that they did know the correct address.

    If the server wants to be malicious and abuse the power and the legislation, then they could simply do this by realising that someone has forgotten to change land registry, even though they know that it is no longer is the correct address.
    Come on! you are legal person does not mean you can use law against facts to takeover someone’s property.I hope this is not the advise you would give your client.

    The judge had definitely skewed and taken a very narrow view, and reached an injust action. The judgement itself has got the name wrong, job title wrong. The server of the notice job title is environmental officer and the defendant had been communicating with regeneration department throughout. Are you saying that it was not OMBC knowledge. There is some other motive and sadly judge has not looked at the facts that were established at the lower court. I think the judge has taken a short cut and compromise justice.

    This is a council who needs to do proper checks and balances.To avoid such abuse the parliament has for this reason given guidance as to issue of s215 notice.

    .

    • Anita, I’m afraid that every case isn’t different. The same law applies to all.

      The judgment does consider the facts of the first instance case, and indeed does acknowledge that Mr Tanna was in email contact with another part of the council. You continue to ignore that the notice was validly and sufficiently served on the property itself, as well as the Land Registry address. There were therefore two valid notices served, via two methods.

      Your accusations about ‘some other motive’ are baseless, and close to libel. The kind of groundless accusation made by a losing litigant in person. As you are apparently prepared to make serious accusations without evidence, you won’t be commenting any more.

Leave a Reply (We can't offer advice on individual issues)