Page images
PDF
EPUB

might be drawn establishing the Torrens System which we all might be willing to support, and at the same time another bill might be drawn establishing it which none of us might be willing to support. Therefore, I think it wise that before the Association endorses it, we ought to have a little more consideration of what we are endorsing. It seems to me that the way to arrive at that is to have something definite before the Association, something setting out the details of this measure, so that we can know what we are acting on. We might recommend this resolution, and the General Assembly might adopt something that might be called the Torrens System, but totally at variance with the idea of the Association in adopting this measure. I would, therefore, suggest that this matter be referred to a committee for the purpose of drawing a bill, with directions to report to our next meeting, and to that end I offer this resolution, as a substitute for the resolution offered by the gentleman from Alexandria :

Resolved, That a committee be appointed to draft a bill looking to the establishment of the Torrens System in Virginia, and report the same to the next meeting of this Association for its approval or disapproval.

Mr. John M. Johnson: Mr. President, the resolution I have offered simply approves the principles of the Torrens System. I would not, as a member of this Association, like to endorse any specific measure, because it might not be a measure which would meet the difficulties which the Torrens System proposes to remedy. This resolution of mine is about as conservative a measure as this body can pass on this subject. It is simply a new departure, it is an experiment, and I am not one of those who believe that anything new is bound to be injurious. I am in favor of this, because I think it will remedy a great evil in our section of the State. The resolution provides that the Legislature may put this system into effect in such portions of the State as may be desirable or as may wish relief. I, for one, speaking for my district, would say that Alexandria is willing to make the experiment for the benefit of the State at

oppose such.

large. With this resolution we simply express that we believe that the principles of the Torens System are such that they can be put in the form of legislation which will remedy great evils not only in this section of the State, as we are informed by a gentleman here, but also in the lower portions, such as that which I hail from. Therefore, I do not want any specific measure recommended by this Bar Association, and I would

I simply want to recommend the principles of the system, and let the Judiciary Committee, or other appropriate committee of the Legislature, work it out and present, as their work, the details and particulars of such a bill.

Mr. A. W. Patterson, of Richmond : Mr. President, I fully concur in the views expressed by the member who has just taken his seat. I, for one, would be opposed to committing myself to any particular measure that might be submitted here, with the limited time at our disposal for considering such a measure.

I think our recommendation would have more force in the form of the resolution of the gentleman from Alexandria, than in the form proposed by the gentleman from Culpeper. As has been already stated, anything emanating from this body seems to be rejected by the Legislature, and if we leave something to their discretion, the system is more likely to be adopted; if we simply adopt the general principles of this Torrens System and leave the details to be worked out in their discretion, I think they will be more apt to take hold of it and make it their own. It would be better, besides, to have such a measure adopted as may be needed in any section of the State, than for us to go to them with some particular bill.

As to the objection urged by one or two of my friends here, that we are not sufficiently familiar with the Torrens System to take any action upon it at all at this time, I would like to say that I have listened attentively to, and read with care, the several reports and speeches addressed to the Association on this subject and have been greatly impressed by them. Since the subject has been introduced here, I have noticed that a number of magazines and periodicals that come to my office have paid special attention to this matter. A number of very intelli

gent and able articles have appeared on the subject, and the study of those articles enlightened me very much, and I had hoped that those articles had come to the attention of the members of the Association and that they had examined them and would be prepared to act at this time. I have noticed that in those States where the system has been adopted and in force for a number of years, the people seem to be very much pleased with it; and in two States where legal objections were made and sustained, the Legislatures had become so much in love with the system that they at once went to work to remedy the objections and have rectified the faults. Several years of working under this new system and testing it have only served to fasten it in the affections of the people; they regard it as a good thing, and regard it as a long step forward in our practical civilization. I believe that any suggestion in those States now to abolish that system, or to take any step backward, would be met with resentment. I do hope that there will be no further delay in this matter among us.

Ir. W. M. Lile, of University of Virginia: Mr. President, if the Torrens System possesses the features referred to by my friend, Mr. Guy—that it encourages pocket titles and secret liens—I have been very much misinformed on the subject, and I heartily concur with him that the Association should vote down the system if it has anything of that sort. I should like to know from Mr. Massie if it is true that the Torrens System is open to objections of that sort and that the public is likely to be misled.

Mr. Massie: Mr. Chairman, I will make this reply. Every transaction intended actually to pass title to real estate under the Torrens System must be noted upon a certificate such as I hold in my hand, which is called the “Duplicate Certificate," and which the owner keeps himself, and must also be noted upon an . exact copy of this certificate which is recorded in the office of the Register. In that respect there can be no transaction with real estate without publicity. But if I am the owner of real estate registered under

the Torrens System, before I can pass or encumber the title to my land, I must produce, at the office of the Register, my duplicate certificate. If I fail to produce it, I must, under such regulations as may be provided by law, similar to those setting up the loss of instruments under our present statutes, prove that the duplicate has been lost or destroyed, in order that another may be issued to me. Suppose I have such a certificate as this in my pocket, and I want to borrow five hundred dollars, or a thousand dollars, or ten thousand dollars on my property ; I can take this certificate and go to my bank or to any one who is willing to lend me the money and say: “Will you accommodate me with a loan ?He would say: "On what security ?” I would say: "This real estate." And a simple inspection of the certificate would show him exactly what he had to deal with, revealing with absolute certainty, not only the property, but my title thereto. I can deposit this certificate with my bank or banker for security, and when I have done that, I have tied my hands from any further dealings with that land.

Mr. John T. Harris, of Harrisonburg: Would that transaction be of record in the clerk's office ?

Mr. Massie: Not unless the banker chose to make it so. No deed I might make could affect the title without production of the certificate and I could have no other transactions with that land with any one else without producing the certificate. In other words, I can deal with this certificate just as with a certificate of stock, except that the title does not pass by delivery of the certificate, but only by official registration. What I have said applies to voluntary transactions by the

When he parts with his certificate he parts with the power to do any other voluntary act to affect the title. But the secret pledge of a certificate will not affect any involuntary lien or charge upon the title. The system does not encourage nor permit "pocket titles and secret liens.” On the contrary, it expressly prohibits them, because no title can pass except by the act of official registration. Herein lies a vital distinction: Titles do not pass by deed, but by registration. Deeds are simply

Owner'.

contracts between the parties and only serve as authority to the Register to make an official transfer of the title, or note liens thereon.

Mr. Barbour: Are not all of those matters, matters of detail, which depend upon the ultimate form of the act ?

Mr. Vassie: Entirely so. Every lien must be noted on this record.

Mr. R. T. Barton, of Winchester: How is the general creditor protected ?

Mr. Massie: He is protected just as in other transactions now.

Mr. Barton: No. In other transactions you can go to the clerk's office and examine the record.

Mr. Massie: And under the Torrens System the records may be similarly examined. Now, some other man may have a pocket deed of trust on the property; there is no protection from that under our present law. But under the Torrens System you know that when a man's property is registered, he has a good title to his property; now, when a man has property in his name, you don't know whether he is really the owner of it or not.

Mr. John T. Harris: How does the bank protect itself?

Mr. Massie: By going up to the Register's office and having the transaction noted.

Mr. John T. Harris: Suppose a judgment is gotten and the certificate is on deposit at the bank, how would the judgment creditor ascertain where the certificate is?

Mr. Massie: The registered owner would be required to produce it or to account for it. In the case you mention, this would disclose the holder who would then be required to produce the certificate in order that the lien might be noted. Now, Mr. Chairman, just one word more. I do not see how we can be

« PreviousContinue »