This paper examines one specific problem in the relationship between property rules of common law and statutory systems for registration of property interests. It examines how registration schemes affects the status of unregistered rights which, at common law, would constitute property rights. Many countries' registration schemes cover this issue by an express ‘sterility section’. The paper traces the interpretation of the sterility section from early English shipping statutes to its incorporation into land registration statutes of Australasia, former African colonies, and eventually Caribbean territories. The history of the sterility section provides the opportunity to look at divergent judicial approaches taken in different jurisdictions during different times, each within a different statutory matrix. The cases considered here are of interest in reflecting different attitudes to the facility with which a statute should be interpreted as rendering equitable rights unenforceable, and the resilience of equity against statutory interference with settled doctrine.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 2003
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The Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal (OUCLJ) is the flagship journal of Oxford University's postgraduate law community, produced under the aegis of the Law Faculty. It is published twice-yearly and endeavours to foster international academic debate and exchange on a wide range of legal topics of interest throughout the Commonwealth.