Parliament has passed the Land Bill, 2019 to reform land administration in the country.
The bill aims to revise and consolidate the laws on land, with the view to harmonising those laws to ensure sustainable land administration and management and effective land tenure.
It further seeks to consolidate the various legislation on land into one enactment to provide a comprehensive statement in respect of the consolidated legislation.
This is to provide easy access to legislation on land and help remove the overlaps and inconsistencies that are currently associated with land legislation.
A memorandum accompanying the bill, signed by the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, said the bill was the outcome of reforms which were introduced in the land sector as a result of the implementation of the 1999 National Land Policy (NLP).
The bill will address the defects in the land administration system in Ghana which had been characterised by a lack of comprehensive land policy framework, reliance on inadequate and outdated legislation, lack of adequate functional and coordinated geographic information systems, among others.
It also seeks to complement the Lands Commission Act, 2008 (Act 767), the Administration of Stool Lands Act, 1998 (Act 481) and the Land Use and Spatial Planning Act, 2016 (Act 925), with the view to providing a comprehensive legal regime for the land sector in Ghana and also support decentralised land service delivery to bring about efficiency, cost-effectiveness and enhanced accessibility to land.
The memorandum said pursuant to Article 22 of the Constitution and international best practices, the bill provided that property acquired for valuable consideration by spouses during marriage was presumed to be owned by the spouses as tenants in common, unless a contrary intention was expressed.
“The bill also provides that property acquired in marriage is to be registered in the names of the spouses, unless a contrary intention is expressed. It further provides for the consent of the spouses in the disposition of such property,” it said.
Besides, it said, the bill clarified some of the issues which had been a source of doubt in the interpretation of land legislation, introducing new concepts, such as the Customary Land Secretariat, to provide a mechanism for a more efficient customary land administration.
“Hitherto, legislation on Customary Land Administration was confined to only Stool and Skin lands. To create a unitary form of Customary Land Administration, clan and family lands have been included in the provisions that deal with stool and skin lands.
“This is because they are all lands held in trust for various corporate tenure, and heads of these corporate groups are fiduciaries, accountable to the people, as indicated in Clause (9) of Article 36 (t) of the Constitution,” it said.
Novel electronic conveyancing
For the first time, the memorandum said, the bill introduced electronic conveyancing to speed up conveyancing and make it more accessible.
“The bill seeks to create a framework which will make it possible to transfer and create or register interests in land by electronic means. It is envisaged that within a comparatively short time, electronic conveyancing will be the dominant method of conducting the business processes of the land sector.
“In respect of land registration, clarity has been provided regarding the difference between title registration and deeds registration. Alternative dispute resolution has been introduced in land title registration, to replace the non-functional title adjudication committees, in order to speed up the registration process,” it said.