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One location planned for property documents

Minister of Public Works Craig Cannonier (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Legislation paving the way for the establishment of a “one-stop shop for property information” has been passed by the House of Assembly.

The Land Title Registrar (Recording of Documents) Act 2017 was tabled by Craig Cannonier, the Minister of Public Works and approved by MPs on both sides on Friday night.

Mr Cannonier said the Act would bring historic land documents together in one place to help provide an accurate and comprehensive picture of land ownership in Bermuda. But Opposition MPs questioned why it was taking so long to establish a Land Title Registry.

Dennis Lister, the Shadow Minister of Public Works, accused the “legal fraternity” of holding back progress.

“The time framework goes back to the early 2000s,” he said.

“The intent was never for it to take this long, what is the delay?”

Meanwhile, Walton Brown added: “There are people who don’t want to see a Land Title Registry in place. It will take away significant revenue from the legal fraternity as we will not have to pay lawyers to do a total search.”

He questioned why Bermuda was moving at a “snail’s pace” and urged Government to move in a “far more expeditious matter”.

Fellow PLP MP Kim Wilson added: “This has been outstanding for some time.

“The Bill that is before us does not take us anywhere. It moves documents from one department to another but does not affect the ultimate aim; to get a Land Title Registry.”

Responding to the PLP MP’s comments, Mr Cannonier said he shared their “expressions of concern” about the lack of a Land Title Registry but vowed: “We are going to get it done”.

“If you were to ask me when I would say we will not get to it before the budget period, but I will ensure tenaciously to get it done thereafter,” he said. “It has been frustrating. We are committed to making this happen. This is the first part so we can get the Land Title Registry Bill to this House.”

Meanwhile, the Summary Offences Amendment Act 2017 and the Bermuda Hospitals Board Amendment Act 2017 were also passed by Parliamentarians on Friday night together with the Insurance Accounts Amendment Regulations 2017.

The Summary Offence Amendment Act is designed to tidy up a discrepancy between the Summary Offences Act 1926 and the Tobacco Control Act 2015. The amendment repeals a provision in the 1926 Act that restricted the tobacco sale to persons under 16, and ensures the age limit is set at 18 across the board. The Bermuda Hospitals Board Amendment Act will enable the board to be appointed in three stages to ensure that all board members’ terms don’t expire at the same time.