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Apr 30, 2009

…And in London, Privy Council rules in land case

In other news, this time from the Privy Council in London, this past Tuesday April twenty-eighth, the Council handed down a judgment in a dispute between prominent Belizean business people – William and Jimmy Quinto and Santiago Castillo Limited involving a parcel of land. The facts of the case are that the Quintos were the owners of the parcel of land located next to SanCas Plaza but had not applied to be registered as owners under the Registered Land Act. As far back as 1990, according to the judgment, the Castillos had been attempting to acquire the land. But back on October sixth, 2004, a woman by the name of Ann Williams applied to be registered as the owner of Parcel eight hundred and sixty-nine, but the documents she submitted as proof of title were in relation to Parcel eight hundred and eighteen, of which she was already the registered owner. This detail was not picked up by the Registry and the disputed land was subsequently sold to Santiago Castillo Limited on December twenty-fourth, 2004.
When the case initially was heard in the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh granted an application to the Quinto family to have the land registered in their name. The Court of Appeal, however, overturned that judgment and the matter was taken to the Privy Council that on Tuesday overruled the Court of Appeal and concluded that the Chief Justice correctly appraised the relevant facts and made the appropriate order . The Privy Council went on to say that when the land registration system was introduced in Belize, the Land Registry was not provided with the resources needed to implement it. The judgment said The Quintos’ title was not registered under the Act when it should have been. Had it been, Ann Williams’ fraud would not have been possible. Furthermore, had proper scrutiny been applied to the documents that she submitted in support of her application for registration, her fraud would have been discovered.

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