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|New Deeds Registrar appointed -as part of legal sector reform process|
|Saturday, 14 July 2012 22:12|
ATTORNEY-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Anil Nandlall, announced, last Friday, the Judicial Service Commission’s appointment of Azeena Baksh as the new Registrar of Deeds.
Baksh, who assumes her new office from tomorrow, is the holder of a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Guyana. She has also completed the Certificate of Legal Education (LEC) at the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and has held several prestigious positions at various agencies including at the Ministries of Legal Affairs and Human Services and Social Security.
In 2010, she was awarded a full scholarship at the Ohio Northern University to pursue a Masters of Law degree, which she successfully completed and was employed at the Governance Unit of the Office of the President up to the time of her appointment.
The AG described Baksh’s appointment as a tremendous achievement in light of the fact that a lawyer has not been functioning in the important position of Registrar of Deeds for over 30 years.
“I am of the firm view that a Registrar of Deeds ought to be a lawyer simply because of the highly technical legal functions that are devolved to that office and therefore a person who holds the qualification of a lawyer is obviously best suited to hold such a position,” he said.
Government, through the Ministry of Legal Affairs, is undertaking several reforms in the Deeds Registry itself, which are being piloted through a consultant, Nicola Pierre, who was hired by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Plans are on stream to establish a commercial registry, which will be disengaged institutionally and physically from the Deeds Registry so that the two can function separately. Over the years, the workload has increased significantly and, as such, it has become too burdensome for the two registries to function as one entity.
The ministry is in the process of acquiring a building which will house the commercial registry.
At the last sitting of the National Assembly, Minister Nandlall tabled an amendment to the Deeds Registry Act, which seeks to confer upon a purchaser in the agreement of sale some form of protection. This will manifest itself in the agreement of sale being a ‘registrable’ interest and capable of being registered at the Deeds Registry in the same way a transport is registered.
“We have to begin to put systems in place to facilitate that change in the law; we will have to open a register in which agreements will be filed at the Deeds Registry and annotated in the same manner that a mortgage is annotated,” he explained.
Another aspect of the reform process will see the availability of an E-version of the Official Gazette. The Official Gazette Bill 2012 which has already been tabled in the National Assembly will pave the way for this development.
Notably, through this reform process, the Legal Affairs Ministry is seeking to grant to the sub registries greater functional autonomy. At present, the registries in places such as Essequibo and Berbice are completely dependent on the main office in Georgetown.
“We are changing that system to permit someone who is working in a particular registry and resident in a particular county, to perform that function subject of course to the general supervision of the Registrar of Deeds. We will have one registrar but assistant registrars who will head the sub-offices in Berbice and Essequibo,” the AG said.
Plans are also in place to convert the Deeds Registry from a central government agency to a semi-autonomous body. In 1999, the Deeds Registry Authority Act was passed but for various reasons, it has not yet been implemented.
Its implementation depends on the transition of the staff of the Deeds Registry from the position of public servants into employees of the Deeds Registry Authority. Minister Nandlall explained that the law provides for their transferral to be unaffected by any detrimental impacts on their benefits which they are receiving as public servants.
The workers are given the opportunity to state their positions on this transferral process; however, their responses, which are the condition for the financing to be made available, have not been forthcoming as anticipated.
Minister Nandlall called for their speedy cooperation so that this process can be concluded as early as possible and explained to them that if they feel disadvantaged in any way by the transfer, they will be diverted into other areas of the public sector so that they can maintain their status as public servants.
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