Mr. Leon Rockliffe in his letter to SN of July 15 castigated three law firms for being content to “enjoy their remuneration while the very substratum of their businesses suffers rapid deterioration.” He was referring to the calamitous deterioration of services offered by the Land Registry over recent years. One of the law firms to which he is referring is Cameron & Shepherd, for which I now speak.
Mr. Rockliffe is aware that, like him, we have been engaged in substantial private representations on the same issues about which he complains for the same amount of time and also without success. We did not go public, like Mr. Rockliffe, after his private efforts failed, in the hope that our private efforts would achieve success. We persisted. We are now satisfied that our private efforts, covering several years, will not bear any fruit.
I have been mandated by my colleagues to offer public support to Mr. Rockliffe’s lone public campaign to resolve the problems to which he referred in his letter, now that all our private efforts have failed.
The failure to resolve these problems is a matter of great consternation among those of us who are engaged in regular business at the Land Registry. Our complaints have fallen on deaf ears. In fact, the last complaint to the Registrar by me, sharply presented after many years of frustration, was met with a shockingly rude written response. The Registrar then fearlessly circulated her obnoxious letter to high officials in the land. I and my colleagues then considered this to be proof, confirming our previously held belief, that the Registrar feels that she is protected and that no consequence will result from any act or omission, however egregious it may be, for which she is responsible or in which she engages. The authorities cannot complain if many of us feel, and we do, that the Registrar enjoys a special status, having regard to the seriousness of the problems and the failure to act after so many years of complaints.
The land registration system was introduced in the 1960s by Dr. (now Sir) Fenton Ramsahoye, then Attorney General and the foremost expert on land law in Guyana. Its objective was to create a new and simplified system of land registration.
As a result of inconsistent funding, only partial success was achieved. But up to recently a transfer of land held under this system took two or three days. Now, under the tenure of this Registrar, it takes several months which is sometimes longer than by the transport system which it was intended to replace because of the delays inherent in that system. This deterioration is the evidence and consequence of the dramatic problems which has enveloped the work at the Land Registry.
We have made several representations in the past on the illegality of the appointment of the incumbent Registrar of Lands. One would have thought that this is a matter of such gravity, touching and concerning the validity of the Registrar’s acts, including the registration of titles and mortgages, that it would have been acted upon with alacrity. It occurred six years ago and the anomaly has not been satisfactorily addressed. This has been a most mystifying episode for those of us who are aware of it and who have made substantial representations, in an effort to guide and assist the administration, to resolve it.
We have come to the conclusion that in relation to the Registrar of Lands and the Land Registry, nothing will happen until a calamity descends upon the public arising from the failure to address the issues of concern.
I join my distinguished friend and colleague, Leon Rockliffe, in his persistent and courageous quest to encourage the authorities to address these problems in the face of their frustrating silence.
Cameron & Shepherd
Attorneys at Law