Upgrading laws to present-day standards

Dear Editor,
“We had bought that land a while, but it was held up in litigation…so, for eight years, we had to wait.” These are the words of Nazar ‘Shell’ Mohammed published in Guyana Times on Friday May 13, 2022. This type of litigation has become commonplace in Guyana, culminating in huge amounts of time and money being spent behind court cases in Guyana.
The 25-acre property at Providence, East Bank Demerara sat idle, when it could have been developed and provided employment. Such pitfalls can be avoided if the Laws of Guyana regarding real estate (land, waterways, properties, and deeds) can be better utilized; if only the country’s laws can be upgraded to present-day standards.
It is irrefutable that a vast array of procedures is ambiguous, and therefore subjected to several interpretations, as opposed to clear-cut provisions. The election fiasco in 2020 is the most salient example, and in the manner of a huge preponderance of cases ultimately reaching the pinnacle of jurisprudence in the apex Caribbean Court of Justice in Trinidad.
Properties are sold without the owners’ knowledge or consent, while land titles are transferred in clandestine yet legal procedures. Such is the oxymoronic function of an archaic legal system where the guardians of the law are the chief law-breakers; ask any driver who was confronted by the Police.
The latest filing in a litany of lawsuits comes on the heels of another land dispute valued over US$25 million. Clashes for real estate ownership will perpetually dwell throughout the courts -the offshoot of poorly- construed laws.
Guyana’s archaic laws are shrouded in ambivalence, controversy, and ambiguity, and many times are unable to provide for true justice. Notwithstanding, properties under litigation have stymied economic growth. Two sectors of such impotent legislation that need urgent reformation are the Deeds Registry and Traffic Offence Procedures, which has seen the latter as a toothless Doberman where the death of a person is classified as ‘Causing death by dangerous driving’ instead of vehicular manslaughter.
Additionally, such killings that occur while drivers are intoxicated should be upgraded to ‘Criminal Homicide’. With modern, efficient laws, coupled with rational sentencing, the society will save billions being wasted on litigation.

Leyland Chitlall