Some mention should here be made of two acts of parliament which have recently been passed, one of which is intituled "An Act to facilitate the Proof of Title to and the Conveyance of Real Estates" (f), and the other, "An Act for obtaining a Declaration of Title" (g). The latter of these acts empowers persons claiming to be entitled to land in possession for an estate in fee simple, or claiming power to dispose of such an estate, to apply to the Court of Chancery by petition in a summary way for a declaration of title. The title is then investigated by the Court, and if the Court shall be satisfied that such a title is shown as it would have compelled an unwilling purchaser to accept, an order is made establishing the title, subject, however, to appeal as mentioned in the act.
Bankruptcy or insolvency.
Act for obtaining a declaration of title.
(z) Ante, p. 85.
(a) Ante, p. 89.
(b) Ante, p. 315. The lands charged are not, however, necessarily mentioned in the memorial.
(c) Ante, p. 316.
(d) Cooper v. Stephenson, Q. B. 16 Jnr. 424.
(e) Stat. 32 & 33 Vict. c. 83. (f) Stat. 25, & 26 Vict. c. 53. (g) Stat. 25 & 26 Vict. c. 67.
The former act establishes an office of land registry, and contains provisions for the official investigation of titles, and for the registration of such as appear to be good and marketable. Lands may be registered either with or without an indefeasible title. For the provisions of this act reference should be made to the act itself. It has not yet attained sufficient success to justify any lengthened accotmt of it in an elementary work like the present. The system of official investigation of title once for all is a good one. Compensation, however, ought to be made to those whose estates may by any error be taken from them in their absence. When land is once registered under this act, it ceases, if situate in Middlesex or Yorkshire, to be subject to the county registry of deeds. All land which is placed under the operation of the act becomes subject to the system of registration thereby established. If the act should lead to an efficient system of registration of assurances throughout the kingdom, it would, in the author's opinion, be the means of conferring a great benefit on the community. This, howrever, cannot be advantageously done without resort to the printing of registered deeds and of probates of wills, and above all the abolition of payment by length. The author's views on this subject will be found in a paper read by him before the Juridical Society, on the 24th of March, 1862, intituled "On the true Remedies for the Evils which affect the Transfer of Land" (h), and to which he begs to refer the reader.
Act to facilitate the proof of title to ami conveyance of real estates.
Such is a very brief and exceedingly imperfect outline of the methods adopted in this country for rendering secure the enjoyment of real property when sold or mortgaged. It may perhaps serve to prepare the student for the course of study which still lies before him in this direction. The valuable treatise of Lord St. Leonards on the law of vendors and purchasers of estates will be found to afford nearly all the practical information necessary on this branch of the law. The title to purely personal property depends on other principles, for an explanation of which the reader is referred to the author's treatise on the principles of the law of personal property. From what has already been said, the reader will perceive that the law of England has two different systems of rules for regulating the enjoyment and transfer of property; that the laws of real estate, though venerable for their antiquity, are in the same degree ill adapted to the requirements of modern society; whilst the laws of personal property, being of more recent origin, are proportionably suited to modem times. Over them both has arisen the jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery, by means of which the ancient strictness and simplicity of our real property laws have been in a measure rendered subservient to the arrangements and modifications of ownership, which the various necessities of society have required. Added to this have been continual enactments, especially of late years, by which many of the most glaring evils have been remedied, but by which, at the same time, the symmetry of the laws of real property has been greatly impaired. Those laws cannot indeed be now said to form a system: their present state is certainly not that in which they can remain. For the future, perhaps the wisest course to be followed would be to aim as far as possible at a uniformity of system in the laws of both kinds of property; and, for this purpose, rather to take the laws of personal estate as the model to which the laws of real estate should be made to conform, than on the one hand to preserve untouched all the ancient rules, because they once were useful, or, on the other, to be annually plucking off, by parliamentary enactments, the fruit which such rules must, until eradicated, necessarily produce.
(h) Published in a separate form, by H. Sweet, 3, Chancery Lane.