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Deeds examiners beware

22 August 2013

Section 99 of the Deeds Registries Act 47 of 1937 (the Act) is used as a tool to threaten deeds office examiners to exercise care and diligence in carrying out their examination duties. However, to prove that an examiner acted mala fide is almost impossible and for that reason the section was very seldom or never applied.

The Deeds Registries Regulation Board in 2012 proposed to amend section 99 to read as follows (amendment in bold):

“99. Exemption from liability for acts or omissions in deeds registry. –

No act or omission of any registrar or of any officer employed in a deeds registry shall render the Government or such registrar or officer liable for damage sustained by any person in consequence of such act or omission: Provided that if such act or omission is mala fide or if such registrar or officer has not exercised reasonable care and diligence in carrying out his or her duties in connection with such act or omission, the Government shall be liable for the damage aforesaid: Provided further that the registrar or officer guilty of such act of omission, shall be liable to make good any loss or damage resulting therefrom to the Government if such act or omission was mala fide, or if such registrar or officer did not exercise reasonable care and diligence in carrying out his or her duties in connection with such act or omission."

The proposed amendment will have the effect that not merely mala fides needs to be proved, but care and diligence will also be a deciding factor to determine whether an examiner can be held liable for costs in his/her personal capacity.

This proposed amendment will have dire consequences for deeds examiners, and heed should be taken.

Allen West
Head of Deeds Training
Pretoria

Reader Comments: 7
ABBEY NAIDOO 22/08/2013:

Allen West is incorrect in suggesting that mala fides and a lack of care and diligence need to be proved in determining an examiner's personal liability. The proposed section 99 amendment provides for an examiner's liability when he can be proved to have been acting either mala fides or failing to exercise reasonable care and diligence.

MARINA BOTHA 23/08/2013:

Hi Allen Die ondersoekers is reeds te versigtig om besluite te neem. Dan verwerp hulle eerder die aktes. Ek is van mening dat indien hulle nog persoonlike aanspreeklikheid in die gesig staar gaan dit byna 'n onbegonne taak word om enige iets wat afwyk van die normale geregistreer te kry. Groete Marina

Allen West 23/08/2013:

Abbey You are correct, it is either / or. As alluded to mala fides is very difficult to prove whereas the non exercising of care and diligence is more easily capable of being proved. Marina, Deeds are either registerable or not registerable. Why would one wish to deviate from the norm. The CRD has made the Deeds Office Practice Manuals available to all conveyancers, in order for you to be on the same page as the deeds office. Let us uphold the integrity of our land registration system by applying the law and not merely trying to get deeds registered.

John Christie 23/08/2013:

As I read this, the invalid rejection of deeds, where the examiner has not exercised reasonable care and diligence, and has rejcted the deeds without good reason in law, will also render the Registrar and examiner potentially liable for damages. The chickens may be coming home to roost. Conveyancers (the Margalit decision) as well as examiners, are going to have to ''up their game''. The invalid rejection of a high value transaction could now have dire consequences for an examiner - as Allen has said.

Christina Botha 26/08/2013:

Dit sal hoog tyd wees dat aanspreeklkheid aanvaar moet word. Ek is siek en sat vir niks seggende verwerp notas wat byvoorbeeld lees: "Withdraw Consent. Redraw Consent and re-lodge in another cover". Die voormelde was ten aansien van 'n Artikel 45[1] Aansoek vir VERBANDHOUERS waar partye getroud was binne gemeenskap van goed en die langslewende die algehele erfgenaam was. Toe die verwerpnota bevraagteken word, toe word dit 'n geval van "add insult to injury".

Die REGISTRATEURS KOMITEE se beslissing is toe dat 'n hereregte vrystelling sertifikaat ingehandig moet word. Van Artikel 2.4.9 van die Hereregte Wet het niemand blykbaar nog ooit van gehoor/gelees nie. Al het die aktekantoor die fout begaan, word geweier om die aktes te herstel vir registrasie.

Dit is maar net een van die verwerpnotas wat in EEN WEEK gegee was in verskillende aktekantore. Enigiemand wat vir 30+ jare aktes doen kan beslis agterkom dat hier groot fout is en wat die vraag laat ontstaan op watter grond het van hierdie ondersoekers hul eksamens geslaag.

Ek het geen eksamen geslaag nie - my "eksamen" as senior aktestikster is en bly ondervinding, want na alles leer jy elke dag iets, veral as jy met ingewikkelde transaksies te doen het wat geen rekenaar program vir al die geld in die wêreld kan saamstel nie en dit is juis hierdie transaksies wat die swakste resultate moontlik lewer in die aktekantore waar dit kom by die verwerpnotas wat gegee word.

Allen West 27/08/2013:

Christina -- I share your frustrations, but the flip side of the coin is also true. You will be surprised to see the calibre of deeds and documents that are lodged for registration. One can then pose the same question as to where did these persons obtain their qualifications. But let us not throw stones, and work jointly towards a secure land registration system. Your Transfer Duty issue is addressed in a circular after discussions held with Sars -- please refer to CRC 14/2000.

LIZHEL SCHUTTE 02/09/2013:

Beste mnr West, die vraag wat vir ure gedabatteer sal word, is "wanneer en waarvoor" sal die ondersoeker verantwoordelikheid in sy persoonlike hoedigheid soos per die voorgestelde wysiging in die gesig staar? Wat sal die betekenis van "reasonable care and diligence" behels? Sal dit ook gedesekteer word soos die veel besproke "harsh rejection" - uitleg en verklarings.

En, verder, WIE sal die diskresie of besluit hieroor he? Kundigheid, of 'n gebrek daaraan, van beide die ondersoekers en aktevervaardigers word aan die groot klok gehang, met vele verskonings. Ek wil graag nog vertroue in die registrasie stelsel behou en glo dat die aktekantoor 'n REGISTRASIE KANTOOR is en nie 'n VERWERPING KANTOOR is nie.

Behoorlike KUNDIGHEID EN KENNIS behoort die dryfveer te wees en nie interpretasies van woordspeletjies om 'n verskoning te he vir 'n gebrek aan kundigheid nie. Daar behoort eerder gewaak te word vir die behoefte en nodigheid van die voorgestelde bepaling.

Dit maak my erg bekommerd dat 'n bepaling soos hierdie in die eerste plek die waarde van 'n oorsprong het en daar 'n behoefte vir so bepaling bestaan.

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