Adoption of the Report of the Special Select Committee on the Deeds Registry (Amendment) Bill 2012 – Bill No. 11 of 20122334 16 Jan, 2014
Mr. Nagamootoo: Mr. Chairman, like my colleague and learned friend Mr. Basil Williams, I also would like to place the gratitude and appreciation of The Alliance For Change for the contributions by the Guyana Bar Association to the debate, discussions and refinement of the original draft legislation, and in particular to the then President of the Guyana Bar Association Mr. Kashir Khan, and I believe the Secretary then Mr. Mohamed Khan, for having attended on several occasions the sessions we had to make clarifications and suggestions. And, of course, there was our own Parliamentary Counsel Mr. Dhurjon who had to deal with questions of interpretation at the point when we had perilously been close to having the floodgate of ambiguities of such a nature that we thought the proposed amendment was colliding with established law as we know it.
The Hon. Attorney General has alluded to the practice and the law as we inherited - Roman/Dutch Law - that provides for no equitable interest in land. At first it was thought that the intention of the Bill, wrongly so, was to vest equitable interest to the purchaser of land. In that regard although clarity was lent to the treatise by learned Senior Counsel Robin Stoby we were able to steer away from an interpretation that would have produced a collision. This might appear to be a simple piece of legislation, an amendment to an existing legislation. And I want to - do not think I am niggardly in doing this - commend the learned Attorney General for having out of his own practice seen the crucibles faced by purchasers of property for valuable consideration and thought it necessary to bring an amendment to the law to protect the purchaser.
I recall during one of the sessions Hon. Member Basil Williams said something about equity’s blue eye baby, the innocent purchaser. We always have to be cognizant of that innocent purchaser who could be defrauded and we have to provide mechanisms to protect the purchaser.
During one of the sessions in the Committee I lamented the fact that we do not have in Guyana hire purchase law, and that the travail of the hire purchaser perhaps demonstrates more than anything else why purchasers generally need to be protected, because every day people enter into hire purchase agreements. This is particularly so in the automobile industry, the cars and the mini vans etcetera. People are given vehicles on which is tied the recourse to repossession and the hirer would then sell that vehicle to a third party who would not know ... [Interruption] Your client would do that too, Sir; one of your clients. But beside that I do not intend to name anyone. But it always occurred to me that the third person who is buying from someone who had been party to a hire purchase agreement does not know that the vehicle could be repossessed, does not know there is a hire purchase because of how it is done. Ostensibly, the hirer is vested in ownership of the property because the hirer exhibits a certificate of registration and the hirer is allowed to have the vehicle registered in his or her name so when the third party comes up the hirer presents the document as an authentic transaction - that he has been vested in the property by ownership.
In England, for example, there is a voluntary way in which it is done. The people dealing in the automobile industry have a consortium where they have to declare in a register kept by their association to whom they hire their vehicles. So someone interested in a vehicle would then consult that book to know if a particular vehicle had in fact been subject of a hire purchase agreement. That to me demonstrates the need for protection of legitimate buyers. Many people have suffered the loss of their hard earned moneys, or moneys repatriated by relatives. They buy a minivan, for example, and the big muscled people go and seize these vans from persons who probably came from Berbice or Essequibo and were lured into buying from a hirer and would have lost their vehicle and their money as well.
This piece of legislation brought here to amend the Deeds Registry Act I support fully the recitation by the Hon. Attorney General of what transpired in the Special Select Committee. And I want to say this in commendation of the Select Committee, this I believe is how a select committee ought to work. We had our acrimonious confrontation at times over our interpretation of the law. And I believe if there had been some departure from full acceptance in the beginning it was because we were trying to interpret the law as is, not simply to prevent an amendment to protect purchasers. We wanted to know we did not create another mischief that we vest in purchaser a right that the law has not given them. Because as the Attorney General has said a transport is not only invaluable, a transport is an instrument that guarantees ownership. So you could not just annotate as you annotate the contract of agreement of sale and purchase on an agreement because there are certain consequences for property rights of spouses, of dependence and so on.
I believe, all in all, we have navigated well all the major issues with the guidance we have been provided and the valuable opinions of the Guyana Bar Association and we are now in a better position to create a register where a person who... And now there is what is called the flip - people do not only sell to one person, they sell to a second and a third person. They obtain first mortgage and go and get a second mortgage in what is called the market overt, the open market. We have now very intrusive transactions that are not healthy for property ownership and for those who would invest money in acquiring property.
The Alliance for Change commends the work of the Committee and we commend this amendment and fully support it at the third reading. [Applause]
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