General Forum

NOTICE

The information posted herein is of a general nature and is not intended to be legal advice nor to establish an attorney-client relationship. Any answers or information about case results are not misleading, depend upon a variety of factors, and the answers or results do not guarantee or predict a similar result. If you need legal advice, you should engage an attorney that practices in the jurisdiction and in the field related to your particular need.


POST YOUR COMMENTS AND START A DISCUSSION

 

IS THIS CORRECT

In light of section 3.(1) of the “International Persons Landholding Act, 1993,” (“IPLA”) which states as follows:-

  “3. (1) A non-Bahamian … who intends to acquire land … shall obtain a permit … to make the acquisition … otherwise any acquisition shall be null and void and be without effect for all purpose of law in the absence of such a permit,”

do you agree with Judge K. Neville Adderley’s opinion in CL 1142 of 2007 (an Effie Knowles related matter), Gilbert Anselm Thompson and MONDEBCO Ltd  v.  Merrill W. McDonald, Raymond W. McDonald and the other 52 defendants, regarding the validity of a deed under the IPLA, when he stated the following:-

“The plaintiffs contend that because a Permit or Certificate of Registration is not attached to various recorded documents it means that the conveyances are void. What section 4 of the 1993 Act provides is that in the case where the lodging of the conveyance is not accompanied by the Certificate or Permit the recording, not the conveyance itself, is null and void. If such a Certificate exists the valid conveyance can be re-submitted for recording with the Certificate or Permit, or alternatively with an affidavit of Bahamian citizenship”  

 

CONFLICT, WHAT CONFLICT

You know things are really changing when the critics join those they criticize.

Title insurance was not well known in The Bahamas until a few years ago. Although International Data Management, its affiliate Computitle, and Aeonian Insurance/Bahamas Title Research had in fact been providing title insurance for decades, title insurance did not get a lot of attention until Higgs & Johnson pushed to make it mandatory on all Royal Bank of Canada/Finance Corporation of The Bahamas loans. The bank happened to be their client. The other law firms fought back through the Bahamas Bar Council and the bank relented. The Bar expressed “outrage” and “grave concerns”. One of the main reasons for the bank’s retreat was the criticism that Higgs & Johnson had a potential conflict of interest, especially because the title insurance would be provided through their affiliate, First Bahamas Title. But now, other law firms are jumping on the bandwagon and affiliating themselves with their own title insurance agencies. Like I said, you know things are really changing when the critics join those who they criticize.

To add insult to injury, some of these firms are holding themselves out as experts.   However, they are no experts in the field of title insurance.  These firms only recently affiliated with a title insurance agency. The proven expert on matters of title insurance in The Bahamas is the International Data Management and Computitle joint venture, which is the most experienced agent, having been providing title insurance for almost 30 years, including supporting the vast majority of the major real property transactions in The Bahamas.

The Bar’s condemnation of Higgs & Johnson was a bit self-righteous (or self serving) since other law firms are now following in their footsteps. The question is, has there been a change in what is considered a conflict of interest? What happened to the conflict of interest created by law firms that also have an interest in title insurance agencies? The Merriam-Webster on line Dictionary defines conflict of interest as “a conflict between the private interests and the official responsibilities of a person in a position of trust”. West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, 2nd Ed., states that a conflict of interest is “a term used to describe the situation in which a public official or fiduciary who, contrary to the obligation and absolute duty to act for the benefit of the public or a designated individual, exploits the relationship for personal benefit, typically pecuniary”. The Bahamas Bar (Code of Professional Conduct) Regulations state that “a conflicting interest is one which would be likely to affect adversely the judgment of the attorney on behalf of or his loyalty to a client or prospective client or which the attorney might be prompted to prefer to the interest of a client or prospective client.”

Would you want a lawyer representing your interests while also trying to make money by selling you insurance against mistakes he or she could make? Think about it.

Should the same conflict of interest disqualification apply to all law firms that are affiliated with or own title insurance agencies, directly or indirectly? What do you think?

Is there a conflict of interest when a firm has represented lenders that lend to a specific borrower and now represents the borrower in transactions with those same lenders?

What happens if there is a problem? In The Bahamas it is extremely difficult to get a member of the bar to sue another attorney.

Shouldn’t you demand your own protection from independent and proven experts?

 

THE EXPERTS

Some claim to have expertise; the International Data Management, Inc. and Computitle Limited joint venture has it.

When it comes to The Bahamas, IDM/CL literally know the lay of the land.

Our Bahamas-specific title insurance experience spans for almost thirty years. Our knowledge is based on the development and maintenance of the only proprietary field and full text indexed databases of the land records of The Bahamas. Our practical know-how was acquired by supporting the largest transactions in The Bahamas, including providing support to the Kerzner/Atlantis Resort transactions since 1984.

It should make you wonder: what are the others not telling you?

Rely on us confidently for your client’s due diligence and security. Rely on us for your title searches and title insurance. Rely on us for virtually any matter of public record, including statistical data and analysis.

Contact Kevin Brennan or Hector Rivera at:

(561) 798-6645

kbrennan@idm-inc.com

hrivera@idm-inc.com

 

A NEW ERA FOR BAHAMIAN LAND TRANSACTIONS
(The new title searching and due diligence standard of care)

The Computitle/IDM Joint Version (“JV”) is proud to announce our new “full-text” index database, which ushers in the new era in Bahamian land transactions. The initial era was based on our automation of the title research and reporting process. We have raised the bar again with the creation of our unique “full-text” index database, which enables the most comprehensive delivery of Bahamian land title information and establishes a new due diligence standard of care for land transactions in The Bahamas.

In the JV’s continuous efforts to improve the delivery of superior products and services to our customers, we have updated our systems and integrated the newest technologies with advanced methodologies, enabling the most expansive and comprehensive land title research and reports. With our new database, we have increased our capacity to research Bahamian land title records and to discover information that would not come to light in any other manner.

INDEXING OF DOCUMENTS

For data to be useful it must be organized in such a way that any desired information may be readily found. An index is a tool for facilitating lookup and retrieval. There are two basic forms of indexing, and the differences between them are significant. The most common type is the contextual index (also referred to as indexed-field), commonly found in books and publications. It is based on keywords and concepts grouped contextually, typically as determined by a human indexer. The other type of index is a concordance, often referred to as a “full-text” index. This index is mechanical, software driven and far less “intelligent” than those created by humans. It is commonly used for searching vast troves of data and typically uses metadata found in document headers to locate “hits” of the subject being searched

If you are a JV customer, you may be familiar with our Indexed-Field Database (“IF Database”), which since 1987 has facilitated researching and the delivery of reports on matters of public record. We are now introducing a new era of service that fundamentally changes the transactional community’s paradigm – the Enhanced Search Database (“ES Database”).

Our databases have been developed using the indexing systems described above:
• IF Database – contextual index available for Volumes 1 through 10198 of the records of the Registrar General of The Bahamas (“RGD”); and
• ES Database – full-text index available for Volumes 8568 and higher of the records of the RGD.

The new capability that fundamentally changes the transactional paradigm is the freedom from the constraints of an index limited to certain fields. The full-text system opens a vast trove of previously unavailable information. For example, in a recent article in “The Tribune” concerning the reporter to find the beneficial ownership of the Windermere Island Club and its indebtedness, one Carry Rich was named as the presumed, but unconfirmed owner. Searches of any indexed-field public records, including the RGD database, would show nothing in that name; however, our searches using the full-text ES Database revealed (inter alia) an Upstamped Debenture from Windermere Island North Development Limited to RBC Royal Bank (Bahamas) Limited that included the signature of the said Carry Rich in his capacity as President and a Director of the Borrower. Since “Carry Rich” was neither the lender nor the borrower, the name was not indexed and the document could not be found using any other existing system.

The most significant benefit to an insured and an insurer is the elimination of risks created by the numerous RGD indexing errors and the ability to find documents that affect a piece of land that would otherwise not be found.

CAVEAT ACTOR

A new standard of care for due diligence in real property transactions has been introduced in The Bahamas. Together, the Indexed Field and Enhanced Search Applications provide the most comprehensive system for searching Deeds and Documents recorded by the Registrar General of The Bahamas from 1955 forward. Consequently, the use of any less comprehensive systems is not sufficient due diligence for land title research, but may be the basis of a claim of negligent representation due to inadequate research and/or a claim against an insured title.

For our full report and description of this breakthrough in searching the records of the RGD, click here request now or contact Shellye Schwartz at 561-798-6645 Ext 110.

 

7072014

Mike Benke (12:55:02) :

How do I search land title in the Bahamas. Are there companies that do this?

Reply

5082014

titlecounsel (15:58:33) :

Dear Mike,

Searching land title in The Bahamas is a topic that I cover in the Q&A Tab. You may want to take a quick look there. One of the Q&A’s you’ll find is the following:

HOW IS A TITLE SEARCH DONE

A title search may begin in several ways. It can start by obtaining copies from the vendor of the bundle of ownership title documents; obtaining an abstract of the title documents; or, directly searching in the public record (see “What is a Title Search” above in these Questions and Answers). In either case, the person conducting the search should obtain all the documents and information that affect or impact the land in question. These may include documents and information from the Registrar General’s Department, the Companies Department, the Supreme Court, the Surveyor General’s Department, a home owners’ association and a physical inspection of the land. Title searches can be conducted by anyone, but since they require a significant level of knowledge, experience and skill to be conducted correctly or completely, they are best done by an experienced researcher or a company dedicated to providing research services, such as Computitle/IDM. Regarding your second question; yes there are companies that do searches. The IDM/computitle joint venture happens to be one of them. We’ve been doing it since 1987 and have unique indexed, databases that allow us to provide information that no other company can provide.

I invite you to also take a look at our web page; especially the first page where you can click the following link and get a better idea of our capabilities:

ANNOUNCING A NEW ERA IN THE DELIVERY OF LAND TITLE INFORMATION FOR THE BAHAMAS

You may also want to check out our Products and Services Tab while you’re there in case you need assistance with a search.

If you want to ask a question in privacy you can also go to our Contact Tab and send us your question from there.

 

16122014

oviedotom (23:09:54) :

I was one of the many who purchased land in the Bahamas using a legitimate Attorney and obtaining a conveyance with deed and full FIB permitting (16.54 acres) for my property, paid property taxes on it for the last 4 years only to find out that I do not have a clear title! Both of my neighbors on each side also received FIB permitting, on ground surveys with Bahamian surveyors and approval for development of homes and a resort! After 4 years, the Bahamian government claims that our property is crown land!? My neighbor has paid tens of thousands in Attorney fees only to have the judge keep postponing the court dates. I would much appreciate what I’m suppose to do at this point. Thanks for the input.

Reply

17122014

titlecounsel (11:41:49) :

Dear oviedotom,

I understand your disappointment and frustration. This is truly an unfortunate situation. Although to provide a complete response, I would need more information (such as how you learned the government may own the land, the name of the attorney who represented you, the name of the seller, the legal description of the property, whether you purchased title insurance, etc.), I can provide you with some helpful general information. First, the government’s claim should be confirmed. You need to find out whether the government actually owns the land. Like anyone else, the government can’t just claim they own the land, they have to prove it. Second, it is also possible that this was an outright fraudulent scheme and then your situation would be a criminal matter. Third, unless expressly excluded, deeds in The Bahamas include implied statutory warranties of title. That means that the seller gave you certain guarantees when he signed the conveyance through which he conveyed the land to you. One of those guarantees is that you would have quiet enjoyment of your property. To the extent someone is claiming they own the land you purchased (the Bahamian government), that claim would be a violation of that implied statutory warranty and the seller could be liable to you. Fourth, it appears someone may have made a mistake in the purchase and sale completion process. If you didn’t buy title insurance (more on that later) the attorney who represented you gave you an opinion on title. I am assuming the attorney opined you had good title and that is why you closed the transaction and purchased the land. If that is the case, your attorney may be liable. Lastly, in any of the above situations, title insurance would protect you. If you purchased title insurance, you can make a claim against the insurance carrier under the terms of your policy. Unfortunately, your situation is a perfect example of why property should not be purchased without also getting a policy of title insurance. Please feel free to contact me privately.

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2 responses

15 09 2013
.UchqKTtHKt8

Spot on with this write-up, I really believe that this site needs far more attention.
I’ll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the advice!

24 03 2015
titlecounsel

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