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UK: Competition watchdog warns against Land Registry sell-off

 |  May 23, 2016

The competition watchdog has objected to government plans to privatise the Land Registry, warning that allowing a private firm to take possession of property ownership information could cause problems for other businesses.

The Competition & Markets Authority said selling off the organisation that keeps the official record of commercial and residential land ownership in England and Wales would give the new owner a monopoly on commercially valuable data with no incentive to improve access to it.

The government attracted criticism for announcing its plans for the £1bn-plus sell-off just before the Easter break, opening a consultation that closes on Thursday.

In a letter sent alongside its response to the consultation, CMA senior director John Kirkpatrick said: “We believe that consumers and the economy would be best served by a model that promotes wide access to Land Registry data at cost-reflective prices, encouraging its use and commercial exploitation by a range of individuals and businesses.”

He added: “Our view is that a privatised, vertically integrated Land Registry [the government’s preferred option] would be unlikely to deliver this outcome, despite the best efforts of oversight bodies to regulate prices and write safeguards into a contract or licence.”

Full Content: The Register

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