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1814, and in 1841 Collector of Customs at Adelaide, in South Australia. About the year 1850 he made his first efforts to procure the adoption of a system for the registration of land titles, and continued his efforts until 1858, when the Torrens Act was adopted in South Australia. Since that time a similar system has been adopted in Great Britain, and in the greater portion of Canada and the other British possessions in North America.
In the United States this system is established in the States of Illinois, Massachusetts, California, Minnesota, and Oregon. In Ohio, the system was adopted in 1896, to take effect on the first day of September of that year. The Supreme Court of that State declared the Act unconstitutional in the case of the State vs. Guilbert, 56th Ohio State Reports, pp. 575-629.
The Ohio statute was very loosely drawn, and impinged upon the constitutional provisions for protection against the deprivation of property without due process of law. Since this Act was set aside, no further effort has been made in the State of Ohio to establish a system for the registration of land
In many other of the States of the Union this system is receiving the attention of the bar, as well as of the Legislature. The Bar Association of Michigan has endorsed the principles of the Torrens system of registration of land titles, and has requested the Legislature of that State to adopt it. In Ne. braska an Act of the General Assembly has been passed authorizing the Supreme Court of that State to appoint a commission of three to be known as the "Nebraska Land Transfer Commission”; this commission to investigate the Torrens system, and, if found suitable to the laws and Constitution of that State, to draft a bill and report the same to the Supreme Court.
In Iowa, the House of Representatives of the Legislature of 1902 has authorized the Governor to appoint a commission
. to investigate the Torrens system. In Pennsylvania the system has been discussed before the Bar Association of that State, and a committee has been appointed to draft an Act for the Stato of Pennsylvania, to be reported to the Bar Association. In Virginia the Torrens system has received consideration since 1899, and it is believed that that State will adopt a system of land registration similar to that which now obtains in the State of Massachusetts, provision having been made in the present Constitution of that State looking to that end. In Rhode Island the General Assembly has appointed a commission consisting of two members of the Senate, three from the House, and two persons not members of the Legislature, charged with the duty of drafting a bill providing for a system of registration of land titles, for submission to the next General Assembly. In Tennessee a committee was appointed in 1898, and afterwards a special committee of five was appointed, to prepare a bill to be submitted to the Legislature by the Bar Association. In Texas the Torrens system has been under consideration since 1896 by the Bar Association of that State. In Washington the Torrens system has received consideration since 1901. In West Virginia, the State Bar Association has considered the Torrens system of land title registration favorably. In Wisconsin a bill has been submitted providing for the appointment of a commission to consider the Torrens system.
A bill was introduced in Congress two years ago, to establish the Torrens system in the District of Columbia, but no disposition has yet been made of this bill. In Utah and Colorado the Torrens system is being earnestly considered.
It will thus be seen that the Torrens system, or one similar, is receiving the careful attention of the profession in many States of the Union, and, while it has been adopted in only five of the States, it is not extravagant to state that in a comparatively few years this system will be established practically throughout this Union.
In submitting to this Association, composed of thoughtful, conservative and patriotic men, the propriety of abandoning an ancient establishment of public policy, and advocating the substitution of another that will be so radical as to be almost revolutionary, your committee is fully advised 'that, unless the suggestions for the proposed change can be founded upon reasons that are clear and convincing, this report should end here.
In Georgia, as in all the other States of the Union, under the system which has long been in force, the registration affecting the title to land is confined to the evidence of the title that is to say, to the deed which conveys the title, and the main purpose of the registration is to put the world on notice by the record. Neither the record, nor the failure to record, affects the validity of the deed. Many things affecting the title to land cannot be recorded—such as marriage, death, prescription, adverse possession, and upon these many titles are established. Likewise, forged titles may be recorded, and on these titles can be established, and by possession under certain limitations title de pending upon forged conveyances can successfully overcome one that is claimed to rest upon genuine grants. Added to these difficulties, attendant upon the determination of a title by reference to the record, are the innumerable difficulties which arise from the failure to record, from incorrect description of boundaries, imperfections in the execution of deeds or muni'ments of title, the carelessness of officials, and other perplex
ities which harass every person who is charged with the duty of passing upon a title from an examination of the books of registration.
As the transfers of real estate increase in number, these difficulties multiply proportionately, and each transfer requires a new and independent examination of the record. So that there is to-day a no more responsible, and no more difficult and irksome labor imposed upon the legal profession than that of passing upon a title to real estate in Georgia. It is idle to say that the uncertainties which are attendant upon the establishment of titles by an examination of the record in Georgia do not detract from the value of the property embraced in the deeds. The transfer of real estate is delayed; it is encumbered and clogged with deeds, and the value of the property is in a corresponding degree injuriously affected. As a security for debt, land ought to be the most valuable and the most available, because it can neither be removed nor destroyed. In point of fact, it is the least available, because the lender of the money, secured by a lien upon land, can hardly be certain that his security cannot be attacked, overcome and destroyed by some outstanding title superior to that which appears upon the record, and which could not have been discovered by the exercise of the highest degree of legal industry and skill. The borrower is likewise affected, because his 'security is regarded as belonging to a class upon which it is difficult to realizė. These obstacles have resulted, in a large measure, in retarding the development of this great State of ours, which, with it millions of broad acres, contains in its general system regarding the titles to land a secret poison, enervating and destroying the strength upon which it should rely for advancement. Following in the wake of these detractions from the real value of the land is the expense attendant upon the repeated examinations of the titles to the land, and the increasing difficulties which multiply as the transfers of a particular piece of real estate may occur.
"In the examination of these titles," quoting from Mr.
"Massee, of Virginia, “the highest degree of legal knowledge is required. Under our present laws and the decisions of our courts, it is hard work, physical and mental, to examine these numerous records, which are being voluminously increased each year, and, finally, the lawyer is liable to a suit for damages, and may be forced to pay heavily for any mistake he may make. No class of legal work is so dangerous, disagreeable and poorly remunerated as the examination of titles.”
But it is not alone to the lawyer that we should look, nor, if you please, to the particular owner of a piece of real estaté, but it is to the general good of the State that our attention should be turned, and, if by the abandonment of this doubtful, cumbersome, expensive and dangerous system, we can add to the value of our lands, both for sale and security, by the adoption of a new system, who should hesitate ?
Within the past few years there have been two outgrowths from our generally defective system of registration, which indicates that the public, recognizing the inefficiency of the system, has endeavored to meet these deficiencies through the agency of abstract companies and title insurance companies. If the present system of registration could practically meet the requirements of the land owner, there would be no occasion for abstract and title guarantee companies. Their presence demconstrates at once the imperfectness of the prevailing system. While these companies may in some measure relieve the people, the relief is only temporary, and in effect must prove quite unsatisfactory. The abstract company, while it may employ more people, has no better means for examining titles and making correct and proper reports thereon than has any individual. The arrangement of this information may be more compendious and by this means the information may be more readily and widely distributed, but, at last, it is the same in