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It has been widely reported that Registers of Scotland closed the applications record last week. In response, the Law Society of Scotland released a recommendation to the effect that  purchase/sale/security transactions should not be completed until Registers of Scotland are in a position to clarify next steps.

At present, the process of completing a registrable transaction involves a number of key steps. The first of these is the submission of an ‘’Advance Notice’’ in the run up to completion. Clients are not, generally, aware of the importance of Advance Notices, however, following closure of the application record, the importance of Advance Notices has been thrown into sharp focus.

The function of an Advance Notice is twofold.  For a period of 35 days from registration of the Advance Notice (‘’the protected period’’), the party named in the Advance Notice i.e. the purchaser/lender is protected against the insolvency of the granter of the Deed to be registered.  Additionally, the Deed to be registered will be prioritised in favour of any competing deeds submitted during the protected period.   

The Application Record is, presently, open for all Advance Notice applications.  There is, however, a concern the protected period may expire before Registers of Scotland are back up and running and processing applications to register the protected Deed.  

As a result, the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill proposes that, for the duration of the effect of the Bill, the protected period offered by an Advance Notice is to be extended until 10 days after the Application Record is fully re-opened.  In some cases, this extended protection offered by an Advance Notice may be sufficient to justify a completion taking place.  It must, however, be remembered that whilst useful, an Advance Notice does not supersede the requirements for registration of completion deeds. 

Meantime, it would be prudent to register an Advance Notice for any anticipated completion, as soon as possible to ensure the relevant deed(s) receive protection until 10 days after the Application Record is fully reopened.

Following the passing of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill, Registers of Scotland have also announced that the development of a digital submission platform for processing applications to register is progressing well.  They hope to be in a position to release a timeline for accepting electronic applications to register completion deeds shortly. Meantime, we continue to monitor guidance and bulletins from the Law Society and Registers of Scotland on a daily basis.  Further updates will be posted as matters develop.  

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