The Quieting the Titles
Newfoundland & Labrador (Application under the Quieting the Titles Act)
Regal Enterprises Limited has made a Notice of Application under the Quieting of Titles Act to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland & Labrador, Trial Division, in St. John’s, to have title to all that piece or parcel of land situated and being on the southern side of Conceptual Bay South, as set out in Schedule A, in the Province of Newfoundland & Labrador. The applicant, Regal Enterprises Limited claims to be the owner, investigated, and for a Declaration that Regal Enterprises Limited is the absolute owner thereof. Schedule A indicates the beginning point on the southern side of Conceptual Bay highway (N 5 264 166.155 metres and E307 722.343 metres of Three Degree Modified Transverse Mercator Projection NAD – 83 for the Province of Newfoundland & Labrador).
The Quieting of Titles Act (QTA) in Newfoundland and Labrador provides a mechanism for those with unmarketable land title to obtain certification of their title through the courts. The statute operates in the shadows of the common law: proceedings are begun, and often end, ex parte. There are no reported decisions of successful unchallenged quietings, which constitute the majority of quieting of titles proceedings. Reported case law under the QTA arises only in contested inter partes proceedings.
In the early 20th century, the Western Union Telegraph Company (WUTC) was attempting to acquire properties in rural areas of the Dominion of Newfoundland, but it found those properties’ titles rested on mere occupation and not on any chain of title. Many landowners in possession of those properties either had not met the threshold for obtaining title by adverse possession against the Crown or had otherwise uncertain roots of title. Due to Newfoundland’s anarchic system of property law, the WUTC was disinclined to invest without some mechanism of obtaining title with certainty.
For centuries the unrecognized illegal occupation of the Colony of Newfoundland that predated the creation of its domestic legislature (in 1832) created the problems of obtaining proper title. In fact, Imperial legislation forbade settlement in Newfoundland for centuries, until those restrictions were lifted in the early 19th century. As a result, much of Newfoundland had been settled with no legally recognized titles. The Supreme Court of Newfoundland’s decision in R v Kough (1819) confirmed that the English rule of 60 years’ occupation would bar a claim of the Crown to recover land. In rural areas, where poverty was rampant and government was largely absent, settlers had neither the means nor the inclination to obtain clear title to their lands from the central government in St. John’s. This context led to the passage of the QTA as a part of the law of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1921.
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