Well, even though the law particularly section 54 of the Lands and Deeds Registry Act, Chapter 185 of the Laws of Zambia provides in general terms that a certificate of title is conclusive evidence of property ownership, title deeds obtained by fraud or issued by mistake may be canceled by the court!
This issue was elaborated very well in the recent case of Lazarous Muntente (Suing as Secretary General of Nchanga Motor Sport Club) v Nchanga Sports Club Limited and Others - 2022/HK/439 whose Judgment was delivered on the 18th August, 2023.
The Details of this Case as Summarized by Dickson Jere are as Follows:
Initially, the land belonged to ZCCM, which later surrendered it to Nchanga City Council who allowed the club to continue using the circuit. The club members later agreed to apply for the ownership of the land through the Council and Ministry of Lands.
However, it appeared two groups emerged claiming to be the legitimate executive of the motor club.
One group proceeded and incorporated a company called Nchanga Sports Club Limited and used the same to apply for the same land. The Ministry of Lands gave it the land on the understanding that it was for the benefit of the club.
This prompted court action by the other group that argued before the Kitwe High Court that the title deeds were given to the private company fraudulently. They insisted that land should have been given in trust of the club and not to a private company formed without the knowledge of other members.
The Judge heard the case and determined thus;
“In the case at hand, I find that the 1st and 2nd Defendants suppressed a fact relating to the true ownership of the land which led to the issuance of a Certificate of Title in the names of the 1st Defendant (private company) contrary to the recommendation on record,” the Judge observed.
He refused to accept the argument that the private company was formed because the club could not own property in its own name but through a company. He added that members could own the land in trust of the club.
“It therefore leads me to the conclusion that this transaction was done in an effort to deprive the club of its property,” the Judge said.
The Court said the members have proved their allegations of fraud and mistake in which the certificate of title was issued.
“I accordingly order the Registrar of Lands and Deeds to cancel the said Certificate of Title,” Judge John Mbuzi ordered.
Case citation - Lazarous Muntente (suing as Secretary General of Nchanga Motor Sport Club) v Nchanga Sports Club Limited and Others - 2022/HK/439 and Judgment delivered on the 18th August, 2023.
This case underscores the principle that title deeds issued by fraud or mistake can be canceled by court even though the law provides that certificate of title is conclusive evidence of ownership" - PER DICKSON JERE.
THEREFORE, WHAT ACTION STEPS SHOULD YOU TAKE WHEN YOU FIND YOURSELF IN SUCH A SITUATION?
Therefore, if you find yourself in a situation where your title deeds have been cancelled by the court due to one or more of the reasons stated in the preceding paragraph above, there are several action steps you may take and these are as follows:
1. Seek Legal Advice
2. Review the Court Order
3. File an Appeal to a Higher Court
4. Rectify Errors
5. Use Alternative Dispute Resolution
6. Title Insurance
7. Follow Formal Legal Procedures
8. Consider Other Dispute Resolution
NOTE: Looking for a Plot to Buy? Well, Click>>>HERE for Details!!!
You'll Be Happy You Did!!!!!