Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Torrens Land Registration System Definition:

A land registration system invented by Robert Torrens and in which the government is the keeper of the master record of all land and their owners.

Related Terms: Abstract of Title, Land Patent

In the Torrens system, a land title certificate suffices to show full, valid and indefeasible title.

A stated in Manor Investments v Ross,borrowing from Fels v Knowles (New Zealand):

"The Torrens system provides a state guarantee of registered interests and an assurance fund to compensate owners whose interests are (for example) defeated due to an error made at the Land Titles Office.

"The cardinal principle ... is that the register is everything, and that, except in cases of actual fraud on the part of the person dealing with the registered proprietor, such person, upon registration of the title under which he takes from the registered proprietor, has an indefeasible title against all the world. Nothing can be registered the registration of which is not expressly authorized by the statute. Everything which can be registered gives, in the absence of fraud, an indefeasible title to the estate or interest."

Used in Australia and several Canadian provinces (such as British Columbia).

In Aujla, Justice Harris used these words:

"British Columbia uses the Torrens system for registering interests in real estate. (Provincial law) stipulates that an indefeasible title, as long as it remains in force and uncancelled, is conclusive evidence at law and in equity, as against the Crown and all other persons, that the person named in the title as registered owner is indefeasibly entitled to an estate in fee simple to the land described in the indefeasible title...

"It is settled law, however, that the statutory presumption that registered title is conclusive evidence of the ownership of legal and beneficial interests can be rebutted in some circumstances. It may be rebutted by the operation of the presumption of resulting trust, where there is an agreement between the parties that is contrary to the registered title, or to take account of the underlying equitable interests between the parties."

In Re Ontario Government Services, a case decided by an administrative tribunal, these words:

"Land titles is a form of Torrens or government guaranteed land registration system. In a Torrens system, the titles register mirrors all currently active registrable interests that affect a particular parcel of land. The land titles system creates an up-to-date title register and provides a government guarantee of ownership, with limited exceptions as specified in the legislation. Past registered instruments, which are no longer effective, are either ruled out or deleted from the current property register. Subject to the exceptions set out in the Land Titles (statute), a title searcher need only complete a search of current registrations listed on the present government guaranteed title register. In addition, unlike in the registry system, there is no need in land titles to search through multiple owners."

University of Washington School of law professor Tim Hanstad wrote:

"Two categories of land registration systems exist: registration of deeds and registration of title. Registration of deeds developed first. This system, called land recordation in the United States, involves registering or recording of documents affecting interests in land. It developed hundreds of years ago in several European countries to prevent double selling of land. With registration or recordation of the deeds at a government office, the priority of claims could be established in the event of double selling.

"The second system is registration of title. This system was first introduced in Australia, in 1858, by Sir Robert Torrens. Torrens believed that a land register should show the actual state of ownership, rather than just provide evidence of ownership. Under this system, the government guaranteed all rights shown in the land register. Shortly after Torrens introduced the concept of title registration in Australia, a similar system developed in England."


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