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Land registration and landownership security: An examination of the underpinning principles of registration

Raymond Talinbe Abdulai (Built Environment and Sustainable Technologies Research Institute, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK)
Edward Ochieng (Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University, Cranfield, UK)

Property Management

ISSN: 0263-7472

Article publication date: 20 February 2017




The assertion that land registration guarantees landownership security is common knowledge. Thus, efforts at securing landownership in particularly, the developing world have concentrated on the formulation and implementation of land registration policies. However, over the years, whilst some studies claim that land registration assures security, a lot of other studies have established that security cannot be guaranteed by land registration. Also, there is evidence from research that has shown that land registration can be a source of ownership insecurity in some cases. The purpose of this paper is to critically analyse the underpinning principles of land registration and their application in order to establish whether or not land registration can actually guarantee ownership security.


It is a literature review paper that looks at the existing literature on landownership, security and land registration systems. The land registration principles that have been subjected to critical analysis are the publicity function of land registration, the legality of ownership emanating from land registration and the warranty provided by the State in land registration, specifically, under the Torrens system.


An analysis of the underpinning principles of land registration shows that land registration per se cannot guarantee ownership security and this helps to explain the findings of the numerous studies, which have established that landownership security cannot be assured by land registration. The paper concludes by identifying the right role of land registration as well as a mechanism that can effectively protect or secure landownership.

Practical implications

Land registration policies and programmes in the developing world are often funded by the international donor community and the findings provide useful insights regarding the actual role of land registration and for policy change in terms of what can secure landownership.


Even though there are two schools of thought regarding research on the link between land registration on one hand, and landownership security on the other, none of the studies has made an attempt to consider the nexus by critically examining the principles that underpin land registration to support their arguments.



Abdulai, R.T. and Ochieng, E. (2017), "Land registration and landownership security: An examination of the underpinning principles of registration", Property Management, Vol. 35 No. 1, pp. 24-47.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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