Manitoba Law Reform Commission publishes issue paper on land titles and trusts
May 6, 2016
BY Kevin Zakreski
The Manitoba Law Reform Commission is studying the effect that certain kinds of trusts have on the operation of Manitoba’s land-title system. In its just-published Issue Paper on Indefeasibility of Title and Resulting and Constructive Trusts (PDF) the commission is taking on the following topics:
the paper explores the issue of whether the fact that someone’s name appears on a certificate of title as an owner of a piece of land constitutes conclusive proof that he or she is entitled to the full value of the land, and may develop, sell or transfer it as he or she sees fit, or alternatively, whether, notwithstanding the fact that his or her name appears on the certificate of title as the owner, the title holder may be found by a court of law to hold the land in trust for another person, and accordingly be liable to provide some or all of the benefits derived from the land to that other person.
The commission notes that this issue can crop up “when courts are called on to resolve disputes between family members regarding property ownership.”
The issue paper begins with an overview of the Torrens system of land-title registration, the concept of infeasibility of title, and the nature of resulting and constructive trusts. It then reviews recent court cases in Manitoba, which have had the effect of casting new light on infeasibility of title and constructive and resulting trusts. These Manitoba decisions are compared to and contrasted with decisions on similar issues from British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.
The paper concludes by setting out issues for further consideration. The goal of the paper is “to highlight the complexities inherent in this matter for legislators, legal practitioners and the courts. The Commission hopes that, in doing so, it will assist these stakeholders in grappling with these matters as they arise.”