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Land Registry Department and Intellectual Property Office Take Up Residence in New Home
Justice and Legal
Land Administration Information System Launched in newly opened Home of Land Registry
In a fittingly auspicious ceremony held on 21st December 2021, the Land Administration Information System was launched to coincide with the opening of the new home of the Land Registry Department and the Intellectual Property Office. The occasion was graced by the presence of his Excellency the Governor General of St. Kitts and Nevis Sir S. W. Tapley Seaton GCMG, CVO, QC, JP, LL.D
Registrar of Lands Mrs. Dawn Chambers Myers was overjoyed as she addressed the gathering. “What a glorious day it has turned out to be! The sun is now shining, and the Land Registry now has its new home.” was her excited declaration as she proceeded to outline the history leading up to this proud moment.
Permanent Secretary Ms. Diana Francis described the occasion as “a watershed moment for the Ministry of Justice Legal Affairs and the Attorney General’s Chambers [signifying] the movement from a concept to the realization of a goal to provide efficient service to the people of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis”. She emphasized the idea of the one stop shop approach to facilitate the ease of doing business as it relates to the services particularly of the Land Registry.
The Land Administration Information System (LAIS) has been a developing project being undertaken by the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs in collaboration with the Government of the Republic of China on Taiwan. The Taiwanese Ambassador to St. Kitts and Nevis His Excellency Michael Chau-Horng Lin was present for the ceremony and expressed his delight at the coming to pass of the occupancy of the new home for the Land Registry as well as the launch of the LAIS. He described the occasion as constituting “an important milestone for the national development and the digitalization of St. Kitts and Nevis” In a special reference to the LAIS, he noted that it represented “the latest accomplishment for the cooperation between the government of the Republic of China Taiwan and the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis.
The project had begun in 2019 and had involved the management of the Taiwan ICDF Project Manager Mr. Edward Chin. The two-and-a-half-year collaboration with the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs had also involved interacting remotely with the Taiwanese company Hy Web in system programming, educational training and technical support. The Registrar of Lands and her staff along with the Land Registry Committee had been painstakingly involved in the collaboration process as well as the detailed compilation and digitalization of the documentary materials necessary to facilitate the project. She was especially grateful for the support of the Bar Association and the legal fraternity for the feedback which has provided valuable insight into the development of the detailed procedures and protocols for the build out of the LAIS service.
Senior Counsel Mr. Anthony Gonzalves QC conveyed the sentiments of the legal fraternity when he said “With the LAIS system, attorneys and staff can stay in the comfort of their offices and access all the information that they require to make at this stage at least a preliminary decision on the authenticity, validity, and marketability of the vendor’s title. This can be done from anywhere…at any time. This has the potential to drastically reduce the time required to complete the initial search phase. This, along with the combination of the intended sharing of the Land Registry information with the other branches of government including Inland Revenue and the addition of Assistant Registrars to speed up the registration process will drastically reduce the time required to complete transactions”. He further explained that the historical uncertainties regarding whether a title or a deed actually exists, where particular lots of land might be located, or any possible book, folio, or registration number should now be confined to the past.
Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs Hon Vincent Byron Jr in his featured remarks alluded to the significance of the Land Administration Information System as a very comprehensive system in terms of searches: “You can look, find titles, documents, mortgages, caveats, all sorts of documents related to a parcel of land on this system…. what we call the search engine…It is the first phase”. He also went on further to indicate that a second phase of the digitization process will involve the ability to register businesses, titles, documents, and lands online.
Attorney General Byron was generous in his expressions of gratitude to all who had contributed to the success of the development of the LAIS. These included the following:
- The Government of the ROC Taiwan
- Mr. Edward Chin of Taiwan ICDF
- Registrar of Lands Mrs. Dawn Chambers Myers
- The Land Registry Committee
- Senior land surveyors
- Ministry of Sustainable Development
- The Planning Department
- The IT Department
- Senior Crown Counsel Ms. Tashna Powell
The former C&C Building on the corner of George and Wigley Streets in Basseterre had been undergoing preparatory renovation for several months after having been purchased by the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis in late 2018. In addition to the two departments instantly taking up residence, the C&C Building is also earmarked to become home to the Law Commission, the Legal Aid & Advice Centre and the Electoral Office in the not-too-distant future. This would come to fruition following additional renovation works to the ground floor and the attic sections of the building.