1. The registration of land was first introduced in 1862. It was initially based on fixed boundaries. But by the Land Transfer Act 1875 that concept was replaced with the “general boundaries rule” which has been in place ever since. Land Registry plans are based on Ordnance Survey Maps, so although they may be good evidence of the topographical features at the time of preparation, they are not directed towards the question of ownership: Alan Wibberley Building Ltd v Insley  1 WLR.Physical boundary features may or may not be consistent with legal ownership.
2. In the famous boundary dispute case of Scarfe v Adams 1 All E.R. 843it was notoriously said by Cummings-Bruce LJ that “an Ordnance map on a scale of 1:2500 is worse than useless.” Another interesting fact is that pointed out by Ann McAllister (Deputy Adjudicator to the Land Registry), Fixed & General Boundaries and Rectification (PBA Paper, November 2006) at :
“On a scale of 1:250 if a ground measurement between two points is taken, up to a maximum distance of 60m, there is a 99% chance that the equivalent distance on the map will be represented within + or – 1 metres. On a scale of 1:2500 the tolerance is + or – 3 metres.”
3. Since the coming into force of the Land Registration Act 2002 (“LRA 2002”) the title documents that an owner of land will have are an Official Copy of the Register, together with the Transfer.In relation to the Official Copy of the Register it must be recalled  that:
· The overwhelming majority of registration only show “general boundaries” as pers.60 LRA 2002. Only a small minority show “determined” or fixed boundaries. It is an onerous process to secure a determined boundary.
· In the case of general boundaries, title is registered without notice to any adjoining owners.
· A general boundary shown on the Register cannot be used to alter the contractual bargain between the parties. That is governed by the words and plans used in the transfer itself.
4. How and why does one go about obtaining a determined boundary? Land Registry Practice Guide 40 hints that parties may wish to enter into a boundary agreement instead of pursuing a determination boundaries. There are certainly cost advantages and time to this as the very detailed plans required for determined boundaries will not need to be produced. In this writer’s view in most cases of settlement it will be preferable to proceed along these lines.
5. Although there may be an argument to suggest that an application for a determined boundary may result in the matter be contested and thereafter adjudicated upon in practice this would be a very strange way for anybody to proceed. The application can only be rejected or accepted and the tolerance levels in the plans mean that only a very bold applicant would proceed like this. Thus, the process in practice is a consensual one, or one which follows contested court proceedings where the court is able to say with sufficient clarity where the boundary is (perhaps with reference to topographical features).
6. The rules governing determined boundaries are Rules 117 – 123 of the Land Registration Rule 2003. They provide that a proprietor of a registered estate may apply to the registrar for the exact line of the boundary of that registered estate to be determined. The application must be in the prescribed Form DB and contain:
“(a) a plan, or a plan and a verbal description, identifying the exact line of the boundary claimed and showing sufficient surrounding physical features to allow the general position of the boundary to be drawn on the Ordnance Survey map, and
(b) evidence to establish the exact line of the boundary.”
7. Reference should be had to Practice guide 40: HM Land Registry plans, supplement 4, boundary agreements and determined boundaries. These summarises further detailed requirements, particularly with reference to the accompanying plan. The plan should, as a matter of good practice, contain a statement signed by a Chartered Land Surveyor stating that the self-explanatory requirement is satisfied:
“I certify that the measurements shown on this plan are accurate to +/-10mm.”
Prior to that there were Land Certificates.
The following examples draw upon those set on in Sara, Boundaries and Easements (Current Edn) at [4-002].