30 November 2018, Brussels, Belgium: ELRA General Assembly

President Vivien Whyte attended the General Assembly of the European Land Registry Association (ELRA) that took place in Brussels on 30 November 2018.

The event included a very interesting discussion on the nature of land registry data, moderated by Professor Teresa Rodriguez de las Heras of the University Carlos III (Madrid), a représentative from the European Commission and representatives from land registries in Portugal, Ireland and the Netherlands. The intricate nature of land registry data, combining personal and nonpersonal data, gives rise to numerous issues when considering the new GDPR regulation. Free movement of data has to be balanced with lawfulness of data usage. As such, a middle ground needs to be found between an open-data system and a controlled access system, defining a data access model that would give the opportunity to filter.

Blockchain was also discussed in the light of the 2016 and 2017 crisis that, according to the speakers revealed the insufficiency of such technology. Institutional technology was mentioned as a way to avoid, correct and punish abuses by controlling platforms. It was also pointed out that only the State may ultimately protect the general interest, as they do when operating land registries.

Among other topics, the situation of the Greek land registry raised much concern as this ancient institution (dating back to the formation of the Greek State and forming part of the judiciary for over a century) was scrapped and replaced with a public cadastral agency. This new agency, attached to the Ministry of Environment, has absorbed all land registries and took over land registration in the country. However, due to lack of resources and numerous errors in the cadastre data, land registrars are now focusing on re-registering the data in the new system. The Supreme Court has recently ruled that no cadastral process can be considered as closed and the Government has announced that half of the rights are liable to be challenged. Legal certainty is severely jeopardised, there is an enormous rise of bureaucracy and litigation and extreme costs for a slim progress of mapping.

ELRA also welcomed a new Member, Slovakia, and presented an analysis and preliminary conclusions of the IMOLA project.