Thursday, February 28, 2013

Electronic recording and registered land

We've allowed the electronic filing of documents at this registry since 2007. Last year, e-files accounted for 34% of all documents recorded. Now, thirteen of the twenty-one registries of deeds in the Commonwealth allow recording this way and more will be allowing it soon. However, electronic recording applies only to recorded land documents, not registered land documents. We have never asked for a determination by the Land Court on whether we may implement this technology. The reason for not asking is that we're quite certain the answer would be "no" based among other things on the fact that the Registered Land system not only requires us to see the original document being registered; it also requires us to retain custody of that document. That is not to say that electronic recording will never come to Registered Land but it is to say that making that happen is much more complicated than was the case with recorded land. Despite these complications, I am confident that when we do raise the issue with Land Court, the Court and the registries will cooperatively seek a solution assuming there is one. At most registries of deeds, Registered Land accounts for approximately 6% of all recordings but that percentage is much higher in some offices (in Barnstable, it is 27%, for example). In those registries in particular, the inability to use electronic recording for Registered Land acts as a deterrent to the use of the technology in all cases. The reason for this is that if an attorney has four mortgages to record with three being recorded land and one being registered, it would make little sense to record the three electronically and then drive to the registry to register the fourth. If you have to go to the registry anyway, you might as well conduct all of your business in that one stop. I don't foresee any quick solution to this issue, but I do anticipate raising it with Land Court in the coming months.

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