Justin Simon, K.C. Speaks on Amendment to Land Act





I am of the firm opinion that clause 5 of the Bill, currently before Parliament, which seeks to amend section 121A of the Registered Land Act, Cap. 374, is unconstitutional as it infringes section 9.(1) of the Antigua and Barbuda Constitution which protects persons from deprivation of their property “except for public use and except in accordance with the provisions of a law applicable to that taking of possession or acquisition and for the payment of fair compensation within a reasonable time”.

The Bill in question is the Registered Land (Amendment) Bill, 2023 which was approved by the House of Representatives on July 28, 2023 and will, today Wednesday August 9th, be before the Senate for consideration.


Following the Island-wide Cadastral Survey in 1975 and the adjudication process to determine ownership, privately-owned lands that were not then claimed were placed in the name of the Crown pending the application to the Registrar of Lands by interested persons who claimed ownership.

Section 121A, which was introduced as an amendment to the Registered Land Act, 1975 by Act No. 6 of 2007 provided a process whereby persons eligible could apply to the Registrar for registration with supporting affidavit evidence, and the Registrar would have the application advertised and then if satisfied make a recommendation to Cabinet to approve the application, whereupon the applicant would be registered as proprietor.

That amendment recognized that a number of persons were occupying lands without being in possession of a Deed of Ownership or a Certificate of Title; and that many land owners either have been living overseas for years, or were deceased and their children/beneficiaries may not be in possession of any land ownership documents.

A simple process was therefore put in place to allow for registration as a proprietor, notwithstanding the passage of time.

The Amending Bill

Clause 5 seeks to amend section 121A by imposing a three (3) year time limit commencing from the date the amending Bill is made law for any application to be made and considered; and that at the expiration of that period (August 2026, hopefully), “the parcel of land shall be vested in the Crown”, and that “the Cabinet may, by order published in the Official Gazette, authorize the Chief Land Officer to deal with the parcels (of land) in the manner directed by the Cabinet”.

In effect, these unclaimed lands will then become property of the Crown to be dealt with as Cabinet thinks fit.

No notice of an intention to acquire by the government in the name of the Crown will be published in a newspaper for public information; no declaration of any public purpose for the acquisition will be made; and no compensation will be assessed for payment, at some time in the future, to the prospective owners of the land.

Do bear in mind that some of these lands may currently be occupied, and that these occupants may have a legal right to title by way of prescription, as these lands do NOT belong to the Crown.

The Constitutional Protection

At the beginning of this article, I made mention of section 9.(1) of our Constitution.

It is important that the public is made aware of section 9.(2) which provides that “Every person having an interest in or right to or over property which is compulsorily taken possession of or whose interest in or right to or over any property is compulsorily acquired shall have the right of access to the High Court for – (a) the determination of his interest or right, the legality of the taking of possession or acquisition of the property, interest or right and the amount of any compensation to which he is entitled; and (b) the purpose of obtaining payment of that compensation”.

There is among our statutes, the Land Acquisition Act, Cap. 233 passed in 1958 which lays down the process which government must follow should it wish to acquire lands from persons who either own those lands or who have a right to or an interest in the lands.

The Amending Bill makes no reference to the provisions of that Act; in fact the Bill simply seeks to allow the Crown to take and dispose of lands which the government recognizes does not belong to the Crown and never belonged to the Crown.

That is not acceptable. Particularly as the Constitution provides in section 2 that “This Constitution is the supreme law of Antigua and Barbuda and, subject to the provisions of this Constitution, if any other law is inconsistent with this Constitution, this Constitution shall prevail and the other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void”.

A possible solution

In closing, I draw the attention of the relevant government authorities to two exceptions provided by section 9.(4) of the Constitution for their due consideration: where the law makes provision for the taking of possession or acquisition of any property, interest or right in satisfaction of any tax (such as property tax) due; and where the acquisition of privately-owned land is necessary because the property is in a dangerous state or likely to be injurious to the health of persons, animals or plants.

August 8, 2023.

Justin L. Simon,

KC Attorney-at-Law








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  1. after reading, I do agree changes on land ownership and possession is needed, if such conflicts, errors and other issues exist.

    However, no bill should have been written without the immediate inclusion of Barbudans and their council involved.

    The first thing anyone acting in good-faith would do is the include the current possessors and show the people they are apart.

    if this was excluded, I am against any and all bills. I also am in agreement with the requirement for Barbuda council to accept the bill, if passed in both houses, and signed by the PM, for it to be law.

    showing your people you care and they matter have utmost importance to me and the continuation of the government.

    I am also calling for a bar to ownership for any CURRENT government minister and senator of any land in Barbuda, if such law passes. To eliminate the appearance of impropriety etcetera.

    I am requesting these in the interest of fairness. Government needs to higher moral and ethical advisors too. Neutral persons.

    • Outta he and Loser Lovell wonder which won a de worse 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣

      “Never Ready”

      “Not ready”

      🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 Privy Council expose the 🤡 🤡 🤡

      • Antigua is always going to be on the losing end when you and a few of your compatriots are allowed to vote. Imagine you managing a business.

  2. This man flew alllll the way to England to stand before white-wigged lords just to hear:

    “The JCPC said the Board has given, the claimants have NO REALISTIC PROSPECT OF SUCCEEDING in their claim under section 9(1) of the Constitution so that the Court of Appeal was correct to strike out that claim. The Board will therefore humbly advise Her Majesty that the appeal should be dismissed.”



    Put it on his tombstone: “NO REALISTIC PROSPECT OF SUCCEEDING..” Ouch!

  3. Trevor said on Observer on or around the day when the judgement was to be delivered that the judge said in closing that the issue of the land was very important to the people of Barbuda. He expressed grand optimism that he would have been victorious. What was the end result?

  4. Antiguans must never forget that when this man was our Attorney General, he cost our Treasury to pay out so much money in court cases. He lost almost every case he ever defended on behalf of the government. In particular the IHI case in which he spent millions of dollars on special prosecutions. The HMB case which again cost us in interest only US$20Mln. Then the APC case which cost of over $200Mln, which Gaston Browne was able to settle with the Hadeed family by extending the period of the BOOT arrangement of the Plant. And many other little contractual breaches, such as the dismissal of the Chairman of ABEC Sir Gerald Watt which caused us a couple of millions. The list of lost cases during this man’s tenure is very long and costly to our Treasury. I wish he were made to pay us back all these monies. He should be charged with criminal professional malpractice.

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