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Torrens System

title, certificate, registration, land, registrar, transfer, british, simple and absolute

TORRENS SYSTEM, a system of title registration devised by Sir Robert Torrens, and first successfully used in Australia. Its object is to make the transfer of landed prop erty as simple and as safe as that of any other property and to do away with the necessity of repeated title examinations. The system is operated through a bureau of registration, in charge of a registrar, and becomes effective on the first transfer of any property after the es tablishment of the system, all land transactions being registered in this office. A title may be registerdd as absolute or as possessory. Be fore registry the title is fully investigated by the registrar, who receives from the owner all the documentary evidences of title, descriptions of boundaries, etc. When the registrar is sat isfied that the title is perfect, he files away all these old papers and issues to the holder a cer tificate of ownership, a duplicate of which is filed in the registrar's office. Such certificates bear on their faces notice of all encumbrances on the property. If the estate is vested in fee simple the title is known as °absolute" and the certificate is stated to be an absolute certifi cate. Should it appear that an absolute title to any land can be held only for a limited period or subject' to reversions, then the regis trar will except from the effect of registra tion any estate, right or interest arising before the specified date or under the conditions named, all of which will be entered in the register and noted on the certificate, which is stated to be a "qualified" certificate. In the case of a °possessory" title the applicant is registered as becoming owner on giving such evidence of title as may be prescribed, and the registration of any person as first owner with a possessory title only will not interfere with the enforcement of any estate, right or interest adverse to the title that may then exist or which may arise a later data And this fact is noted on the °possessory" certificate issued to the owner. This examination and registra tion of title does not have to be repeated after a certificate has once been issued, the transfer of the certificate with accompanying entry of that fact in the registrar's office completes the transaction. By this method the transfer of a land title certificate becomes as simple and as inexpensive as the transfer of a certificate of stock or of a bank share, and the holder of the title is absolutely free from the usual danger of land title transfers, such as flaws in the title, the neglect of obscure future con ditions, etc. Should any person suffer loss through misdescription, omission or any other error in the certificate issued by the registrar, he is indemnified from an insurance fund cre ated for that purpose. This fund is provided

by the imposition of a tax of one-fourth of I per cent on the value of the land at the time of the first certificate of title being addition to the registration fees. The registrar is the judge in all cases as to the liability of the fund to such compensation. The fees for registration under the Torrens sys tem are very small, usually being $24 in case of the first registration, and three dollars upon the issue of every subsequent certificate. The system has been vigorously opposed by title guaranty companies and by members of the legal profession who see in it. an end to a fruitful source of fees since under it there is furnished State title insurance instead of pri vate title insurance, with nominal cost for con veyances.

The Torrens system is in use in South Aus tralia (1858), British Honduras (1858), Van couver (1860), consolidated with British Co lumbia (1866), Queensland (1861), Tasmania (1862), New South Wales (1862), Victoria (1862), England (1862, 1875, 1897), Ireland (1865, 1891), New Zealand (1870), British Co lumbia (1871), Western Australia (1874), Wales (1875, 1897), Fiji (1876), British Guiana (1880), Ontario (1885), Manitoba (1885), Canadian Northwest Territories (1886), Lee ward Islands (1886), Jamaica (1888), British New Guinea (1889), Cyprus (1890), Illinois (1895), Ohio (1896), California (1897), Massa chusetts (1898), Minnesota (1901), Oregon (1901), Philippine Islands (1902), Colorado (1903), Hawaii (1903), Nova Scotia (1904), Alberta (1906), Saskatchewan (1906), Wash ington (1907), New York (1908), North Caro lina (1913), Mississippi (1914). The Massa chusetts law is the best and the most success ful in the United States; the New York law has been in great part a failure, due to de fects in the act, of which the opponents of the system have taken advantage. Since the origi nal Torrens Act gave a judicial and discre tionary power to the registrar not in conform ity with the spirit of American institutions, this portion of the law has been slightly changed in order to adapt it to the require ments of this country. Consult Niblack, William, 'Analysis of the Torrens System' (Chicago 1912) ; Cameron, A. G., (Virgin State Library, Richmond, Va., 1906).