by Linda Straker
- Act facilitates obtaining of possessory title to land by people claiming through adverse possession
- Land and property owners who reside overseas are losing properties because of claims through Possessory Title Act
- Amendments will be made to deal with problems identified before end of year
The Attorney General’s Chamber has admitted that there are individuals who are misusing the 2016 Possessory Title Act, and before the end of 2021, amendments will be made to deal with the problems identified.
“As the legislations have been used more and more, we have received complaints and concerns raised by our judicial officers, the Bar Association, including members of the public about the misuse of the Possessory Title Act for purposes not intended,” said Attorney General Dia Forrester during the weekly post cabinet briefing on Tuesday, 29 June 2020.
Without sharing details about the types of misused undertaken by the individuals claiming land through the provision of the Possessory Title law, Forrester said, “We have identified some inadequacies in the legislation and my office will be making recommendations to the Cabinet for onward debate in Parliament for making changes to the Possessory Titles Act.”
The 2016 Possessory Title Act facilitates the obtaining of possessory title to land by people claiming through adverse possession. Forrester explained that the 2016 legislation was aimed at people such as families who have been occupying lands for generations, without proper legal title.
Some of the amendments will include the introduction of a more comprehensive representation of an application to occupation of property with evidence of actual occupation, and verification of that occupation by use of public records and independent third parties like land surveyors.
“There will be changes to the method by which the public is notified about application for possessory titles including notice to ownership to neighbouring parties,” said Forrester. Another significant change will be the format used to publish notices in newspapers. “Most notably, arrangements will be made for electronic publication so that there is greater coverage and wider circulation of applications.”
It is understood that a number of land and property owners who reside overseas are losing their properties because individuals are claiming the properties through the Possessory Title law. However, the legislation states that a person aggrieved by an order or decision of the Court made or given under the Act may appeal to the Court of Appeal not later than 3 months after the order or decision is made or given.
“The Court of Appeal shall be the final court of appeal for the purposes of this Act,” the legislation mandates.
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