Section 149 of the Land Transfer Act 2017 (LTA) empowers the Registrar-General of Land (RGL) to enter caveats in certain circumstances, for example, to prevent fraud or improper dealing.

Here you can read more about the basis for a Registrar’s caveat, the process to request a Registrar’s caveats, their effect, and how to remove one.

The basis for a Registrar’s caveat

The RGL may lodge a Registrar’s caveat for the purposes outlined in section 149(1) of the LTA, which includes to prevent fraud or improper dealing with land. 

Freezing Orders, injunctions and orders made under s43 Property (Relationships) Act 1976 can be used to support the basis for a Registrar’s caveat. See below for more on Freezing Orders.

How to request a Registrar’s caveat

Practitioners can request a Registrar’s caveat in writing:

The request should:

  • include sufficient evidence to support the grounds for the caveat e.g. a coloured copy of a Freezing Order by the High or District Court, and
  • specify the records of title affected, and request that a Registrar’s caveat be lodged against them.

Upon receipt of the request and supporting evidence, LINZ may place a Departmental Dealing against the relevant records of title until the caveat is approved and ready for entry. The RGL may require further information before agreeing to enter the caveat. The RGL will lodge the caveat internally within LINZ– there is no further action required by the applicant or practitioner. The usual timeframe for entering a Registrar’s caveat is 5 working days.

LINZ will notify the registered owner that the caveat has been entered, as required by section 150 of the LTA.

Effect of a Registrar’s caveat

A Registrar’s caveat will act as a stop against registration, except where the RGL is satisfied that registration of a dealing will not prejudice the person in whose favour the caveat has been lodged. As examples, a discharge of mortgage or surrender of easement will usually be able to be registered despite the presence of a caveat.

Where an e-dealing is lodged against a record of title that is subject to a Registrar’s caveat Landonline will warn of the presence of the caveat when you pre-validate the e-dealing and when you submit it. The dealing will step down to ‘Lodge’ for review by LINZ staff. If the caveat prevents registration the dealing will be rejected. Otherwise, LINZ will register the e-dealing and maintain the caveat against the title. 

Withdrawal of Registrar’s caveat

Only the RGL can withdraw a Registrar’s caveat. If the caveat no longer serves a purpose and can be withdrawn, the practitioner acting for the person who sought the caveat (the Client) should contact LINZ (either the person at LINZ they have been dealing with directly, or by using one of the methods above) with a formal written request confirming the Client’s instructions for the caveat to be withdrawn. 

It’s worth noting, sections 138-148 of the LTA do not apply to Registrar’s caveats, which includes the lapsing process under s143 and the caveator consent provisions under s145.

Freezing Orders

Freezing Orders support the basis for a Registrar’s caveat.

The process to request a Registrar’s caveat above should be followed and:

  • include a coloured PDF copy of the Order, and
  • the request should clearly state: “Freezing Order - for the attention of the Registrar-General of Land”.

Freezing Orders are often of limited duration. If the time period of a Freezing Order expires, the practitioner can send a request to the RGL for the caveat to be withdrawn. 

If an extension or variation is required, the RGL must be informed, in order to maintain the Registrar’s caveat. In such cases, the practitioner should:

  • contact LINZ in writing (either by emailing the person at LINZ they have been dealing with directly, or by using one of the methods above), clearly stating: “Freezing Order Extension/Variation - for the attention of the Registrar-General of Land”, and
  • provide a coloured PDF copy of the Extension or Variation Order.

If a Discharge Order is obtained and the caveat can be withdrawn, again the practitioner should contact LINZ, provide a coloured PDF copy of the Discharge Order and clearly state: “Freezing Order Discharge - for the attention of the Registrar-General of Land”.

If no Discharge Order is obtained, the practitioner should follow the process above for “Withdrawal of Registrar’s caveats”.

The High Court and District Court Rules[1] make no provision for a Freezing Order (still also referred to as a ‘Mareva’ Injunction in the District Court Rules) to be registered.

If a Freezing Order is lodged for registration as a Court Order, LINZ will reject it, or ask the practitioner to withdraw the dealing. A Freezing Order also cannot be used as the grounds for a caveat against dealings as there is no provision for this in section 138(1) of the LTA.

Need to know more?

If you have any questions about a Registrar’s caveat affecting a title, you should submit your questions as a “Titles Information” Request from your Landonline Workspace.

[1] Part 32 High Court Rules 2016: District Court Rules 2014 Rules 7.12 and 7.45

Last Updated: 4 June 2020