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https://hmlandregistry.blog.gov.uk/2024/03/27/amalgamation-or-merger-whats-the-difference/

Amalgamation or merger – what’s the difference?

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At HM Land Registry we find that applicants sometimes mistakenly refer to amalgamation when the application is actually for a merger. This distinction is important, because HM Land Registry uses certain criteria to decide whether or not we should process an application for amalgamation, but we would normally complete a merger. 

Amalgamation

An amalgamation joins two or more parcels of registered and/or unregistered estates affecting different extents of land under a single registered title. 

For amalgamation to proceed, it must be both possible and beneficial for HM Land Registry to complete the application, which must first fulfil certain requirements.

  • The estates must be the same tenure.
  • The class of title must be the same.
  • The proprietor(s) must be the same and hold the estate in the same capacity. 

If these requirements are met, we will then consider whether or not amalgamation is beneficial from HM Land Registry’s perspective, taking account of the applicant’s needs and the additional time it would take to process the application, on a case-by-case basis. 

Current priorities mean we are able to accept only those applications for amalgamation that will bring positive advantage to a number of prospective purchasers, for example: 

  • if amalgamation would address a boundary discrepancy
  • amalgamating areas of land comprising a housing development
  • to help show a right of way that benefits land registered under several titles, but abuts only one of them 

By the same measure, we would be unlikely to progress: 

  • a request to amalgamate isolated plots of land, which would better be dealt with as a single, multi-title application 
  • an amalgamation that would result in a very complex register and title plan with a multitude of title plan references 
  • where amalgamation would lead to a very large title plan. Plans larger than A3 can create printing problems for customers

It is important to note, however, that registration under separate title numbers does not impede future dealings with the titles, as any number of titles can be dealt with in one instrument. 

Merger

A merger is the fusion of two or more estates, for example leasehold into freehold or a superior leasehold. It takes place when the leasehold interest and its immediate reversionary estate come into the same ownership. This can occur when the tenant acquires the immediate reversionary estate or when the landlord acquires the leasehold interest. 

The lease is absorbed by the reversion and thus determined (which is the same principle as for surrender). For merger to take place, the following conditions apply.

  • The lease and the immediate reversion must be in the same ownership.
  • The lease and the immediate reversion must be held in the same capacity. 
  • The person holding the two estates must (a) intend that merger takes place and (b) make it clear they are applying for merger in their application.

For more information about merger of a lease, see our practice guide 26 on GOV.UK, and for guidance on surrender and regrant applications, see our handy checklist. 

What this means in practice

Amalgamations can and do happen if there are good reasons and it makes sense to do so from HM Land Registry’s perspective. Mergers, however, are routinely applied for and processed and, although they cannot always be completed, this is usually the result of technical issues with the application, such as the presence of a restriction. 

First published in the Law Society Property Section, Property in Practice. 

We welcome your comments about this blog in the comments below. Please note that we are unable to discuss individual cases through the comments section and would request that all such queries be directed to our Contact Us web form where you will receive a response as soon as possible.

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2 comments

  1. Comment by JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor, Nether Edge Law posted on

    Amalgamation ought to be available as of right in any Title Create case chiefly, if there's a Transfer of Part or a First Registration). As HMLR needs to open at least one new title anyway, why refuse amalgamation as part of the exercise?

    • Replies to JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor, Nether Edge Law>

      Comment by Adam Hookway posted on

      A fair point Jeffrey - the article was aimed primarily at explaining the difference between an amalgamation and merger in registration terms. And focussed on a standalone application to request an amalgamation.
      You are right though that an application for example to transfer part of one title can include a request to amalgamate that part with a second title, and generally speaking we would agree to such a request. We still reserve the right to refuse although the grounds for doing so would most likely focus on the 'not possible' as explained in the blog. Thanks as always for your feedback and it's good to include the extra commentary as part of the blog as a result, in cases others had the same thought.