By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE creation of a land registry system in the Bahamas could take up to 10 years or more to be fully implemented according to a leading attorney, stating that such a system would not only speed up but reduce the cost associated with the conveyance of real estate in the country.
Andrew O’Brien, a partner in the Glinton, Sweeting and O’Brien law firm, said that the government should take a phased-in approach when introducing the concept in the Bahamas. “My view on the issue remains the same. I think we need a land registry system in the Bahamas. If you look at how such a system works in the US for instance it generally reduces the work that attorneys have to do, speeds up the process and could reduce the cost of the transaction. I believe that it is doable here.
“The knowledge is certainly out there. We just need to devote the time, the resources and have the political will to get it done,” said Mr O’Brien.
Calls for the government to reform land registration and the Quieting Titles Act were reiterated last week after the Privy Council delivered a judgment in favour of housing developer Arawak Homes, confirming it had superior documentary title to the land in Pinewood Gardens and Sir Lynden Pindling Estates.
The decision could ultimately impact hundreds of residents in the area who do not have good title to their property.
Minister of State for investments Khaalis Rolle has stated in previous interviews to this newspaper that the government is planning to “revive” the Land Adjudication Bill, the Registered Land Bill and the Law of Property Bill. All three were brought forward under the former Ingraham administration but have lain dormant after being sent back for revisions based on consultations and feedback received.
Addressing the issue of land registration is considered a critical issue for the Bahamas’ international competitiveness, with this nation regularly ranked close to the bottom of the widely-followed World Bank’s Doing Business report on the issue of ease of registering property.
“It will help speed up traffic, commerce and could reduce legal fees as well,” said Mr O’Brien, acknowledging that such a move would not be in the best financial interests of attorneys. “There is no about that, it goes against our financial interest but I’m sure that attorneys will adjust. There is always going to be work out there for them to do.
“The social benefit is that it will reduce the cost of conveying property,” said Mr O’Brien. He added: “It may be a 10-year process or even more. I think that it’s something that would definitely be good for the country.”