The system of land charge registration was introduced by the Land Charges Act 1925 and has since been codified in the Land Charges Act 1972.
- As mentioned previously, the scheme of Land Charges Registration was designed to replace the pre-1926 position where equitable rights in rem would bind a transferee of land if they were not equity’s darling (thus replacing the uncertain notice doctrine).
Section 2 of the Land Charges Act 1972 provides a list of equitable rights in rem which can be registered as a land charge in the register of land charges. So a land charge is the generic label for this list of equitable rights in rem.
The most important of these land charges are as follows:
- Estate Contracts (Class C(iv)) e.g. contracts to purchase a legal estate in land
- Restrictive covenants entered after 1 Jan 1926 (section 2(5)(ii) – Class D)
- Equitable easements entered after 1 Jan 1926 (section 2(5)(iii) – Class D)
Note: beneficial rights under trust cannot be registered. They are dealt with through the doctrine of overreaching
The registration of an equitable right in rem as a land charge is deemed to constitute actual notice of that right to a transferee/purchaser of the burdened land (Law of Property Act 1925, section 198 (1)). In other words, registering equitable interests as land charge ensures they bind future transferees/purchasers of the land.
⇒ Thus the enquiry as to whether an equitable right in rem binds a transferee/purchaser is not whether or not the transferee is equity’s darling (which normally focuses on whether he/she has notice of the right), but whether or not the equitable right is registered as a land charge.