The Law Association of Trinidad & Tobago (LATT) has expressed “grave concern” about proposed legislation to deal with land transactions.
LATT has now issued a call for the Miscellaneous Provisions (Registrar General, Registration of Deeds, Conveyancing and Law of Property, Real Property, Stamp Duty and Registration of Title to Land) Bill to be “immediately withdrawn” and for all stakeholders to be engaged in proper and meaningful consultation.
After a review of the bill, the law body has concluded that in its existing form, it would have “far-reaching and severe effects.”
The piece of legislation, which was introduced in the House of Representatives on April 5, seeks to meet this country’s international requirements prescribed by the Financial Action Task Force.
The Law Association, however, is concerned it would undermine citizens constitutional rights like restricting property owners of ownership and enjoyment of property. According to LATT, “it would encumber the freedom of parties to contract with one another for the sale/purchase of property.”
“It would increase the cost of the sale and purchase of property,” LATT said.
LATT is concerned that it would impose criminal liability on any person exercising purely administrative functions instead of civil liability.
But apart from the direct impact on citizens, LATT believes there are economic consequences. It warned the proposed legislation would further complicate instead of facilitating the ease of doing business in this country, and further downgrade the country’s ranking on the Ease of Doing Business Index. This, it warned, could further stagnate the “already struggling economy.”
LATT recognised the Government’s efforts to make the country FATF compliant, however, it is worried that the bill far exceeds how all other countries have approached the issue.
“The Bill in its current draft seeks to introduce measures which will have far reaching negative effects on economic growth and place obstacles to poverty alleviation in Trinidad and Tobago,” the law body stated.