Wednesday, 10 December 1941
Dáil Éireann Debate
Minister for Justice (Mr. Boland): I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. The object of this Bill has been set out in a memorandum which has been circulated to Deputies, and I do not intend to go into the details of the Bill now, as I think the memorandum was pretty full. It was originally intended that the Bill should provide for the appointment of a new Registrar. The present Registrar has exceeded the age of 65—he has come quite close to 70 now—and there is no provision for the appointment of his successor. The present Registrar was appointed by the Land Judge, and there is no person in the position of Land Judge at present, so the Government has decided that future Registrars are to be appointed by the Government. That is one of the things which make the Bill necessary now, to make provision for the appointment of the Registrar of Title. There is also a position in the Counties of Monaghan, Leix and Waterford, which is explained in the memorandum, but perhaps I had better explain again what the position is. Under Section 4, of the 1891 Act, the Clerks of the Crown and Peace were the Local Registrars of the Registry, for their counties, except in Monaghan, Leix and Waterford, where the Clerks had not then the necessary professional qualifications. In those counties, a solicitor in the county town was appointed Local Registrar, and acted in that capacity for many years. The Court Officers Act, 1926, created the post of County Registrar, and transferred to him the duties for his county then discharged by the Clerk of the Crown and Peace, but excepted from its provisions the Local Registries under the control of a person who was not a Clerk of the Crown and Peace.  (See section 32 of the Court Officers Act, 1926.) The effect of this was that on the death of the solicitor who was the Local Registrar for Monaghan, Leix or Waterford, his duties as Local Registrar did not vest in the County Registrar. As each of these Local Registrars died, the Minister for Justice, as a temporary arrangement, appointed the surviving partner in the same firm to act as Local Registrar, pending legislation on the subject, thus avoiding the disturbance which would be caused by removing the records to another office. Sections 8 to 10 of the Bill deal with these matters. It enacts that hereafter the County Registrar for every county shall be its Local Registrar. It provides for the control of all local offices, and for the transfer of those offices in Monaghan, Leix, and Waterford to the Circuit Court Office. The Bill also validates the temporary appointments above referred to, and makes provision for their termination.
Another change contemplated was the winding up of the Insurance Fund, as to which I might perhaps refer again to paragraph 14 of the memorandum. That fund was to make good any deficiency which might have arisen through a mistake in registration, or through fraud. It is provided in the Bill that this fund will be wound up. The moneys now to the credit of the fund are estimated to be in excess of any claim likely to be made against it, and any claims which are made in the future will be met by the Exchequer.
If the Bill were confined to those three points it would have been a very simple one. But in the meantime there was a committee set up under the Courts of Justice Act, 1936, to consider amendment of the Rules. This committee consisted at the material time of the President of the High Court, two legal members, one of them a barrister nominated by the Bar Council, and the other a solicitor nominated by the Council of the Incorporated Law Society; and a fourth member, who was also the secretary to the committee —namely, the Registrar of Titles himself.  This committee was charged by the 1936 Act with two duties; first, to make and alter, when necessary, the ordinary routine rules which are required for the day to day administration of the 1891 Act; and secondly, to advise the Minister for Justice from time to time as to how the Act might be improved. The committee acted with praiseworthy speed and energy, and the greater part of the present Bill is based upon the committee's recommendations. I felt that since the committee had given so energetic a lead in the matter, I could do no less than carry on their good work by adding to the draft Bill sections incorporating the committee's suggestions. That has added very much to the length of the Bill, and even more to the difficulty, from a layman's point of view, of reading and understanding it, but it has also added very much to the value of the Bill, and I feel pretty confident that Deputies will not, in the circumstances, complain that consideration of the reforms proposed by the committee has not been postponed until the end of the present emergency.
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