Limited re-opening of the PRA
Irish conveyancers welcome the limited reopening of the property registration authority from Monday 20 April 2020. Much concern had arisen because of the PRA's closure following the Irish government's tightening of restrictions on movement on 27 March 2020. In particular, practitioners were faced with uncertainty arising from the unprecedented closure of the PRA offices and the knock on effect on the priority of registrations.
This has been alleviated somewhat by the PRA's announcement that from 20 April 2020 they will be open to receive applications submitted by post and DX, although the public office will be closed and therefore hand delivered applications will continue to be unavailable. The actual processing of applications will continue to be temporarily suspended, however, the ability of the PRA to receive and date stamp applications provides clarity on priority.
CROOther state offices on which the conveyancing system relies have also been impacted but most are similarly providing limited operations, which is facilitating transactions. The CRO's update of 15 April 2020 clarifies the position in relation to a number of applications with certain paper applications being received via post, date stamped and processed with expected delays. The area of most pressing and immediate impact on conveyancing, the registration of charges by way of C1 filing, continues to be available and processed online in the usual way. Submissions of C6/C7/C17 (release and transfer of charges) are being date stamped and will be processed with expected delays.
Land registry searches are available online and registry of deeds searches are similarly available with the exception that pre 1970 acts are not available as these have not been digitised and can only be taken up manually.
CRO searches continue to be available with full service and the same goes for judgements, bankruptcy and insolvency searches.
Planning searches are available in some local authorities but with some restrictions on availability of enforcement acts. Similarly, Sheriffs' searches continue to be available in most counties.
The Central Offices is closed except for urgent flings and is by appointment only.
Case by Case basis
It is fair to say that practitioners are approaching transactions on a case-by-case basis and carefully examining their search and registration requirements.
In what is certainly an unprecedented time for the legal profession and the wider business community, practitioners welcome the efforts being made by the various state offices to maintain a level of operational capacity which allow the wheels of commerce to turn, albeit more slowly.
Written by Paddy Smyth.
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