50 years ago: Musings on land ownership

Bodden-50-years-logo-finalIn the Feb. 23, 1966 edition of the Caymanian Weekly, a precursor of the Cayman Compass, Bodden Town correspondent Arthur Hunter wrote:

“For the past several days the Grand Court has been occupied with the trial of a Civil Action that centres over a land dispute involving lands in the Meagre Bay area of this Island.

“Land disputes are not uncommon here due to the fact that all titles to land are based on the old Common Law System and boundaries are merely defined by metes and bounds, and in most cases by obscure landmarks.

“This state of affairs may have sufficed two decades ago but with the present land boom and the fact that foreign purchasers are investing substantial sums in the purchase of local land, it should not be allowed to continue much longer. Government is under a moral obligation to ensure that investors, even in land, are offered some measure of security, particularly as title insurance is not easily obtainable on Cayman Islands.

“For some time now it has been rumored that Government intends to introduce an up-to-date system of Land Registration whereby each land proprietor will obtain a Certificate of Title for his parcel supported by a survey map of the same. This, like many other Government projects is taking a long time before it is implemented.

“It is recognized that an up-to-date system of Land Registration is a costly project but on the other hand it is one that can pay for itself. Each applicant for registration, which should be made compulsory, can be required to pay a fee based on the market value of the land which is the subject of the application. A portion of this fee can be appropriated to an assurance fund from which compensation can be paid to those persons who have been prejudiced by a bad Certificate of Title.

“Surely some of the vast earnings being made by Government from the 3% Land Transfer Tax could be used to get a proper Land Registry established. Maybe the P.R.O. can enlighten us as to future plans in this regard.”