A lack of clarity in plans and the smaller diagrams included with land titles on Landonline could present legal difficulties in approving land transactions and new developments, says a former district land registrar.
Many older digitised plans were scanned from microfilm and not the original paper plan and are in black and white, says former registrar and Nelson lawyer David Phillips.
Landonline operations head Lindsay Meehan confirms this.
A monochrome image may make it difficult to interpret an easement on a property, for example, Phillips says, since this is often represented by a distinctively coloured line or shaded band. On modern plans, the easements are lettered.
Meehan dismisses this as “not an issue”. Though there have been grumbles about it, no actual legal difficulties have been conveyed to Linz, he says.
In “about 45%” of cases, anticipating problems, the original plan has been scanned in colour, Meehan says. Someone searching for a plan online gets first the monochrome image, then, in cases of difficulty can retrieve the colour image if there is one.
Where this fails, there is always the option to refer to the plan in the original bound volume, he says. Although the Nelson office of Linz has been closed, it would not be difficult to get an agent to look up the plan in Christchurch, where it would now be stored. Coloured features are usually distinguishable as grey rather than black — “and you’d just need to ask someone in Christchurch, ‘Please go and look at the plan and verify that the grey band is the easement referred to as being coloured yellow on the original.’ That shouldn’t be difficult.”
Diagrams on titles have always been in monochrome, so the situation there is no more difficult than it was under the manual system, Meehan says.
Phillips, of law practice McFadden McMeeken Phillips, referred the difficulties he saw to the Law Society’s delegate to Landonline. The delegate handed it on to Linz, and Phillips received a reply from Meehan. Phillips is still not satisfied that all difficulty has been removed, he says. “But I’ve not taken the matter further at the present time.”