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The experience of Hong Kong in developing a program for conversion of existing deeds-based registration to a title-based system, and current status (‘Daylight’

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Presentation on theme: "The experience of Hong Kong in developing a program for conversion of existing deeds-based registration to a title-based system, and current status (‘Daylight’"— Presentation transcript:

1 The experience of Hong Kong in developing a program for conversion of existing deeds-based registration to a title-based system, and current status (‘Daylight’ conversion approach) Mr. John Davison (Hong Kong)

2 Background of John Davison John Davison is a solicitor admitted in Queensland, England and Wales and Hong Kong. He joined the Registrar General’s Department of the Hong Kong Government in The department was responsible among other things for the Land Registry. He was a member of the British Government’s team which negotiated the Joint Declaration on the Future of Hong Kong with China in 1984, being responsible for land issues. He joined private practice in Hong Kong in 1987 and is a partner in the firm of Kao, Lee & Yip. He was a member of the Registrar General’s Working Party on Title Registration from 1988 to 1994 and thereafter a member of the Law Society of Hong Kong’s Working Party on the various Land Titles Bills up to date. He was a consultant to the Land Registrar on what became the Land Titles Ordinance 2004 from

3 Hong Kong Background

4 Hong Kong background 1841 cession of Hong Kong Island to Great Britain 1860 cession of Kowloon Peninsula 1898 lease of New Territories (“NT”) for 99 years to st July 1997 – Hong Kong SAR

5 Legal system Common Law and Hong Kong Ordinances continue Land system Government leasehold

6 Facts relevant to land registration Area of Hong Kong – 1,103 sq. km (about 400 sq.m.) Population – near 8 million 50%+ live in NT About 40% population live in Government housing All varieties of land – highly urbanized, high density commercial and residential areas down to rural and village land, including ancestral land

7 2008/09 year 593,328 documents lodged for registration in Land Registry Yearly number varies from about 500,000 to about 800,000 Mostly sale and purchase agreements, assignments, legal charges Number of individual titles approx. 2.8m at end of June 2010

8 Present Land Registration System

9 Current land registration system Land Registration Ordinance, (Cap.128); 1844 – oldest piece of Hong Kong legislation still extant Mainly followed the Van Diemen’s Land Act 1827 (Imperial) (now Tasmania) Main principles little changed since 1844 Section 2(1) : The Land Registry shall be a public office for the registration of deeds, conveyances, and other instruments in writing, and judgments; and all deeds, conveyances, and other instruments in writing, and all judgments, by which deeds, conveyances, and other instruments in writing, and judgments, any parcels of ground, tenements, or premises in Hong Kong may be affected, may be entered and registered in the said office in the prescribed manner.

10 Priority by date of registration – deemed to be date of lodgment if lodged within one month after execution – otherwise date of actual registration Form of register – divided into Ownership Particulars, Encumbrances (including agreements for sale and purchase) Registers in book form then cards, now computerized

11 Land Registry organization There is one land registry for the “urban area”. Originally two in NT, now 8 district registries in NT Urban area registry operated by Registrar General’s Department (“RGD”) until 1993 when Land Registry set up as a trading fund NT registries operated by New Territories Administration until taken over by RGD in late 1970’s, early 1980’s. NT registers not as well kept as those in urban area

12 Progress of Reform

13 Process of change to title registration in Hong Kong May 1988 – November 1994 : Government Working Party on Title Registration chaired by Registrar General Early 1990 Working Party recommended titles registration system and accepted by Hong Kong Government 1994 – First blue bill introduced into Legislative Council Second blue bill

14 Third blue bill Fourth blue bill 2004 Land Titles Ordinance (“LTO”) passed Not yet in operation 2005-present – LTO reviewed and amendments discussed amendment bill in Legislative Council

15 Mass Conversion – Mechanisms Considered

16 Mass conversion mechanism Mechanisms tried in various blue bills Midnight conversion Gradual conversion with voluntary conversion variation Provisional title with voluntary conversion to absolute Daylight conversion

17 Midnight conversion In first Bill Midnight on appointed day LROLTO Timeline LTOAppointed passedday

18 Gradual conversion After appointed day, all new (virgin) land and surrender and regrant land subject to LTO Existing titles (LRO land) - application for conversion to be made on first assignment for value - voluntary conversion allowed - titles would have to be checked and approved by or on behalf of Land Registrar - two systems running in parallel – LRO continuing to apply to LRO land - Danger of 1 st and 2 nd class land with corresponding values

19 LTO LRO LRO Timeline open-ended - LTOAppointed no longstop date passedday

20 Provisional title  absolute title midnight conversion - to provisional title LTOLRO Timeline open-ended - LTOProvisional  Absolute no longstop date title appointed day After appointed day, all new (virgin) land and surrender and regrant land subject to LTO

21 Daylight Conversion

22 Daylight conversion Midnight -Daylight - no conversion automatic conversion no change LTO LTO new land most remaining LRO land no longstop date for remaining LRO land LROLRO LRO Timeline LTO Appointed(incubation period) 12 years after appointed day passed day After appointed day, all new (virgin) land and surrender and regrant land subject to LTO LRO land remains under LRO till year 12 and some continue beyond 12 years

23 Caution against conversion Can be registered under LRO by person claiming title to or beneficial interest in land Can be registered up to 12 th anniversary of appointed day Lasts for 12 months – can be extended by High Court only once for 12 months Then cautioner must take out court proceedings and register his claim as lis pendens Caution can be removed by order of High Court on application by person with interest in the land Registrar can remove in certain circumstances Compensation for wrongful caution Land subject to caution will not be converted on 12 th anniversary – still subject to LRO Registrar may issue inhibition or caution against conversion – expect will be used mainly in NT

24 Earlier Mass Conversion in New Territories

25 Previous mass conversion in NT Land settlement period simple Torrens system type land titles ordinance passed for NT but never brought into operation Land survey by surveyors of Government of India Demarcation Districts (“DD”) Land Court Claims to land under Ch’ing Dynasty law on district by district basis Assessed by Chinese law experts Awards of Land court became schedules to Block Crown leases 350 DDs, 350 Block Crown leases


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