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The Expert's View
About land book by a judicial exper... PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 31 May 2005

The old Grundbuch/Land Book System was able to provide limited services only. In the opinion of the judicial expert, the up-to-date computerised land and property registration system and its interactive map systems allow not only precise work that is free of technical contradictions, but it also supports the activity of the court as now objective, precise, reliable professional expertises can be produced.

Land book and land registration from the point of view
of the judicial expert's practice

Dr. Zoltán Forgács
judicial expert

„If the Court does not possess that special knowledge, which is needed to judge a significant fact or other circumstances in a legal action, they invite a judicial expert.” [Pp. 177. § (1)]

The most frequent legal actions, when the Court invites judicial expert specialised in land surveying are the following: establishing the ownership right in a land/property, stopping trespass, establishing the boundary line of a land parcel, cancellation of joint ownership or regulation of its use. In these legal actions, it is a must to start from the valid official land registration status, as the official, authentic registration forms the basis of both the land/property and the legal protection to be provided by the courts.

From the expert’s point of view, the most important data of the properties are those, by which one can identify the said property: parcel identification number and the related analogue or digital map representation with the registered area (size) of the land/property. Between the map representation – in the case of digital maps, the coordinates of boundary points – and the registered size exists an unambiguous mathematical/geometrical relation. The map representation determines and proves not only the size, but the location of the land/property too. Therefore, in a given legal action, one can determine both the real size and the location of a property corresponding to the current status.

In Hungary, before the current multi-purpose land registration system, another system was operating; the so-called land book minutes of community breakdown. The written documents were not supported by maps, which would have been suitable for any land surveying purposes. Between the registered parcel areas and the real situation there were frequently significant differences. The sketches were suitable to show the neighbouring parcels only, because the geometrical form of the parcels did not correspond to the real form either.

Later on, together with the progress of the cadastral surveys and the official acceptance of the maps by the land book, this situation became more favourable, but because of the lack of authentic updating of the registration with the changes, contradictions were created between the real ownership relations, the registered parcel sizes and the previous paper based cadastral maps.  The problem of systematic updating of the registration was even more difficult, as two different authorities were responsible for the land book and the cadastre.  As in those times, the technical supervision of the sketch of change (by the responsible authority) was not the precondition of updating the land book and reverse, the cadastral maps were not updated with the changes of the land book at all. In that case, if the sketch of change was not properly prepared from land surveying point of view, the technical consistence between the registered parcel size and the map representation did not exist. This kind of sketches were enclosed to the land book documents only, the current investigation of which would be very time-consuming or would not be possible at all.  To eliminate the accidental injuries originating in the error or lack of harmonizing the registered parcel size and the sketch, the rule of law on the land book said that the property sheet enclosed to the corresponding land book item did not guarantee the authenticity of the registered data of the relevant area.

The land book of a community was maintained in their area of competence by the corresponding courts of first instance as land book authorities. But the registration work was the responsibility of the land book officials, and not the judges themselves. This authority had the role of registration, maintenance and evidence. When managing the cases connected to land book, this authority did not make decisions about the legal content of the documents, but they only had to examine, if the submitted documents were suitable for registration or updating changes, their form and content correspond to the requirements and whether all the necessary certificates, official permits and sketches were enclosed. Although the land book authority did have   maps, officially they did not update the maps with changes. As no land surveyors belonged to the staff of the authority, they did not deal with the technical supervision of sketches either; they did not send changes to the cadastral authority. Based on the experience of judicial experts, the majority of errors occur expressly in the cases of parcels affected by changes (erroneous determination of the size of an area, or its map representation). It was very rare when there was error in the original surveying, mapping or area calculation.

The land book contained the negotiable properties only. Correspondingly, the not negotiable public lands were missing from this registration. Therefore, the old land book registry cannot be considered as complete, and was not suitable to be the national inventory of land/property. The more, it did not support the activity of experts specialized in land surveying, as the examination and determination of accidental differences between landed properties and the neighbouring public land were only possible by using map representation. But lacking precise a reliable map representations, the experts they were not able to prove the result of their examination by an area calculation control.  

In 1971, the Government recognized that the parallel and partly overlapping maintenance and updating of the land book and the national land registration by several institutions could not go on anymore. They passed a Governmental Decree [1.042/1971.(IX.29.) Korm.] on the creation of a unified land registration system and organization, further on about the improvement of the land management activity. The decree provided that by merging the existing national land registry and land book into one organization; a new, up-to-date, unified land and property registration system should be worked out and realized step-by-step. The new land registration system should be formed by comparing the data of the national land registration, the land book and the maps serving as a basis for them. In the case if they differ from each other, the real status, the data, rights and facts are to be determined by new survey of the site, by hearing the interested parties and arranging everything according to the rules of law. The Government defined the principles of creating the new land and property registration system. These were the most important ones:

  • The land and property registry should be a reliable inventory of the national properties covering the whole area of the country, buildings, apartments in the condominiums and housing cooperatives and all premises beyond housing purposes;
  • The land registration should officially certify the correctness of land and property data;
  • The principles of publicity and constitutive validity of the registration should be reinforced in connection with the data, apart from the exceptions described in the relevant rule of law;
  • Registration of any title in the land registry can only happen on the basis of original document. Judicial legal remedy should be provided against registration;
  • Certain data recorded in the national land registry are mandatory to use in given fields of national, social and economic life of the country;
  • The land and property registration system should be built up in a way that its maintenance and updating could not cause any uncertainty in the national social and economic life of the country in relation of ownership rights; nobody can suffer injuries of this reason.

Based on the governmental decree, the institutional legal background of the land and property registration was elaborated, and the land offices have performed the edition of the land registration system in about 8-10 years, followed by official acceptance. On the technical level of those times, Part 1 of the property sheets, the land books and various summarizing records were prepared by data-processing machines, reaching countrywide data consistency in the land office network. Because of the centralised data-processing, there was some delay in updating the registry. Impeded by the limits of technology, in those times nobody could think of computerised processing of rights and legally significant facts; they were loaded manually. 

Through the eyes of a judicial expert, the edition of the land and property registration was an important step forward to quality. Namely, the expert was allowed to start his job in settlements only, where land surveying base maps, which satisfied the requirements prescribed by the main authority, were available. The lack of harmony between map representation and registered size of area in theory disappeared. The land offices were authorized by law to correct the errors discovered during the work at any time, also initiated by the office. The former rough area calculation errors practically disappeared too.

As a consequence of the intensive development of computer technology, the demand on a fully computerised land registration system had come up at the beginning of the 1990s.  During several development phases, the ideas came true step-by-step, continuously changing day by day, even today. To introduce the first results into practice, it was necessary to provide the corresponding legal background too. The Act V. of 1994 on land registration can be considered as a significant milestone of our profession’s history from two standpoints. On the one hand, – following the changes that happened in the hierarchy of rules of law in the period of transition – because this law raised the legal institution regulated earlier by law-decree onto the level of Act, on the other hand, because this law allowed change the manually maintained land registration into computerised data-processing. This Act provided for the first time that the property sheet copies printed from the computerised land registration and verified by land offices should be accepted by citizens, the various authorities, further on the courts and attorneys at law; their content has the same legal effect as that of those copies made of the manually maintained property sheets.

The producing of cadastral maps serving as basis of land registration and the map revision technology reached the technical level of the land registration system – that was considered more up-to-date – even surpassed it.  Its general use is limited by the lack of the necessary financial resources only, but the development is inevitable. Nowadays, by the countrywide interconnection of the land office networks and providing online access to certain users we can cover the demands on ever growing technical level.  With the introduction of the change monitoring service, the protection and advanced security of title and property became reality. While the digital mapmaking technology is going to be dominant and we are able to build up the most modern GIS databases, the interactive connection can be realized between the registrations containing the legal, descriptive part and the cadastral map data. These experiences are very promising. In the current databases, the content of property sheets appears as a descriptive attribute that is assigned to the technical characteristics. The technical harmony between map representation and area size is automatically provided by the software. A certain circle of users has a real demand on integrated land surveying data, which are supplied in a form that is suitable for technical purposes and for land registration as well. The separation of the integrated system of mapping and land registration data, and its institutional management would mean such a step back that later on that after a certain time the system could not be corrected at all, or only by investing unacceptable high costs.

Through the eyes of the judicial expert, the modernised, computerised land and property registration system and the connected interactive map systems – beyond enabling professionals to work with high precision and without any technical contradictions and prepare objective expertises based on technical data that can be reconstructed on request at any time – significantly support the activity in the justice system too.

Shortly: it can be stated that the old land book registration – compared with the current system – was suitable to provided limited services only. The current land and property registration system has been forming in a long procedure of development. Now, when the TAKAROS programme is ready and the TakarNet network is operable, a modern, unified land management system has been working for the users’ satisfaction. In this system, the uniform management of the property sheet data and the map representation data – which form equally important two parts of the land and property registration – was realised. As a result of the development of hardware and software, there are more and more occasions to introduce new, safe and high-level services in the land offices.  Accidental separation of the unified systems – of non-professional motives – would imply unpredictably disadvantageous consequences.

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