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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Differences Between the Systems

The basic difference between the deeds system and the land transfer or Torrens system is that the latter is a system of registration of title to land and not merely, as the deeds system was, one of registration of instruments from which title to land was derived. The main purpose of the Torrens' system is to provide a simple and cheap method of recording the transfer and other dealings with land and at the same time to ensure security of title by a system of State guarantee. The mechanics of recording dealings are provided by the creation of a register, each folio of which is an office duplicate of the owner's title. The folio or title has recorded on it full particulars of the proprietorship to the land, together with any changes which occur through transfer, death, or other devolution, and the encumbrances to which the land becomes subject. The cardinal principle of the Land Transfer Acts is that the register is everything and that, except in case of actual fraud on the part of the purchaser, he gets, upon the registration of a transfer an indefeasible title against the world. The position has perhaps been most aptly stated in Re Land Titles Act – Ferguson v. Registrar of Land Titles (Sask, C.A.) (1953) 1, (D.L.R. 36):

  1. Estates and interests pass on registration and not upon the execution of an instrument.

  2. Priority dates from registration and not from time of execution.

  3. The registered owner, except in the case of his own fraud, holds free from all estates or interests not noted on the title, subject to statutory reservations.

  4. A person taking a transfer from a registered owner is not, except in the case of his own fraud, affected by any notice of another's equity or unregistered interest.

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