AGY-19 | Land Titles Office [Registrar General] (1857-1985) Land Titles Office (1985-2000)

NSW State Archives Collection
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The office of the Registrar General was first constituted on 1 January 1844 by the Deed Registration Act of 1843 (7 Vic. Act No. 16). This Act provided for the appointment of a Registrar General to replace the Registrar of the Supreme Court (1) as the officer responsible for the "registration of wills and devises, deeds, conveyances and other instruments affecting real property" (2); "Acts of the legislature; charters of incorporation; memorials of public companies"(3); and "of certain marriages, births, baptisms and burials". (4)

In December 1849 the office of the Registrar was abolished and its functions transferred to the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court. (5) In 1855 an Act for Registering Births, Deaths and Marriages (Act 19 Vic. No. 34) revived the office of Registrar General (6) by making compulsory the registration of births, deaths and marriages (7) and divided the colony into registration districts.(8)

In 1857 an "Act for the transferring to the Registrar General the Duties of the Chief Clerk of the Supreme Court as Registrar of Deeds and other Instruments "( 20 Vic. Act No. 27) transferred all instruments and duties of registration from the Chief Clerk of the Supreme Court to the Registrar General (9). In 1858 the Registrar General's activities were carried out by two branches - Births, Deaths and Marriages and Registration of Deeds.(10). The Deeds Branch eventually came to include the Deeds, Companies, Business Names, and Bills of Sales Sections. The Companies Branch was established as an independent unit in 1955 (11).

The Real Property Act , 1862 (26 Vic. Act No 9) ,introduced the Torrens System of land title, the main feature of which is a single document - the Certificate of Title. In conjunction with this Act a separate Land Titles Branch was established on 2 January, 1863 with the appointment of the Registrar General and Land Titles Commissioner, two Land Titles Commissioners, two Examiners of Titles, a Deputy Registrar General, two Draftsmen, and a clerk. (12).

In 1975, as a result of the review of Machinery of Government, a Department of Lands the Registrar-General's Office was transferred administratively to the Department of Lands. (13) The re-organisation consolidated registration for the three major land title systems in New South Wales which were formed during the ensuing year. The Torrens Titles Branch (formerly the Land Titles Branch), the Deeds Registration Branch took responsibility for registration of Old System Deeds, and the Crown Titles Branch. (14)

The Crown Titles Branch commenced operation in the Registrar General's Office on 8 December, 1975 and attended to transfers of Crown tenures, and applications for alterations to restrictions of land title and lodgement of relevant documents.(15)

On 9 June 1985 the name of the Registrar General's Office was officially changed to Land Titles Office (16). This change was intended to reflect the Agency's function as the authority for all land registration in New South Wales.

On 15 June 1988 the Office was proclaimed as a separate administrative unit preparatory to it becoming a commercial operation 'outside the budget sector'. The Land Titles Office was officially recognised as a separate administrative unit in the Natural Resources portfolio. The new arrangements gave the Registrar General direct access to the Minister, and a guarantee of much greater organisational control. In return the Land Titles Office promised an annual dividend to Treasury. Public Service limitations on recruitment were lifted and new systems developed. The first priority was the Business Operations System, which was to automate and revolutionise the registration of plans and dealings (17).

In 1992/3 the following operational divisions and branches were renamed to more accurately describe their functions:
* Operations 1 Division became Document Registration Division;
* Operations 2 Division was retitled Title Creation Division;
* Plan Investigation Branch became Plan Registration Branch;
* Building Services and Equipment Branch to Building Services Branch;
* Audit Branch to Planning and Audit Branch (18).

In 1996 the agency reported operating as a successful government commercial enterprise and claimed leadership in the automation of land information. There were four major divisions within the Land Titles Office: Administration and Services Division, Land Information Services Division, Legal Division and the Document Registration Division (19).

The Land Titles Office was transferred from the Department of Land and Water Conservation to the Department of Information Technology and Management by proclamation on 8 April 1999 (20) It appears that the entity continued unchanged until 1 July 2000 when it combined with the Surveyor General's and Registrar General's Departments and the Land Information Centre to become the newly established Government Business Enterprise - Land and Property Information New South Wales.

(1) Deed Registration Act 1843 s.1
(2) Ibid s.3
(3) Ibid s.3
(4) Ibid s.3
(5) An Act to abolish the office of the Registrar-General and to make further provision for the Registration of Deeds, and other Instruments (Act 13 Vic. No. 45) s 1,2
(6) In 1855 An Act for registering Births, Death and Marriages, 1855 s. 2
(7) An Act for registering Births, Death and Marriages, 1855 s. 17, 21
(8) An Act for registering Births, Death and Marriages, 1855 s. 3
(9) An Act for the transferring to the Registrar General the duties of the Chief Clerk of the Supreme Court as Registrar of Deeds and other Instruments, 1857 s.1,2
(10) Blue Books (Public Service Lists) 1858, Sydney, Government Printer, 1858 pp23-24
(11) Blue Books (Public Service Lists) 1955, Sydney, Government Printer, 1955 p. 82.
(12) Blue Books (Public Service Lists) 1863, Sydney, Government Printer, 1863 p.12. The appointments to this new office are listed in the New South Wales Government Gazette, Vol. 1, 2 January 1863, p. 1.
(13) Department of Lands Annual Report for the year ended 30/6/1975 p. 5.
(14) Ibid p. 25
(15) Department of Lands Annual Report for the year ended 30/6/1976, p. 25
(16) Public Service Notices No. 287 03/07/1985, p.3.
(17) Robert Crundwell, Hilary Golder, Robert Wood, 'From Parchments to Passwords: A History of the Land Titles Office', Hale & Iremonger, Sydney 1995, pp. 132-133. Proclamation 15 June 1988, New South Wales Government Gazette, Vol. 2, 17 June 1988, p. 3171.
(18) Land Titles Office Annual Report, 1992/3 p.11.
(19) NSW Government Directory, 1996, pp. 274-275.
(20) NSW Government Gazette 8 April 1999 p. 2688 Public Sector Management (General) Order 1999 17. (2)

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