Jan 17, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, S.C, is expected to table an amendment for the Registration Act to close a gap that currently exists in the law.
According to Nandlall, the gap which currently exists allows Magistrates to make alterations to birth and death certificates, without allowing the General Registrar to first verify the authenticity of the information.
The disclosure comes following a legal notice in the published in the press detailing a scenario by which the Registrar is seeking to challenge an order by Magistrate Fabayo Azore, to change a date on birth from November 6, 1975 to November 6, 1974, without verification of the records.
In the application before the High Court, the Registrar through the Attorney General – the State’s legal representative – seeks to have the Magistrate‘s order quashed and set aside on the grounds that it was granted in breach of the laws of national justice.
Among other things, the application seeks a declaration that Her Worship, Magistrate Fabayo Azore, had no jurisdiction to make an order without the services of Registrar General for births and deaths.
In his recent comment on the issue, the AG explained that the scheduled amendments will help safeguard against person giving erroneous or invalid information for the purpose of changing the records.
Nandlall had explained that the current Act allows for a correction of clerical errors on a Birth or Death certificate based on an order by a Magistrate. The Magistrate in granting this Order is required to hear from the complainant and those responsible for making the entry. However in the case which is currently before the High Court, the AG noted it does not relate to a minor clerical error but a substantive change of the records.
In this regard, the AG explained that the law must be amended to afford the General Registrar the opportunity to be heard on the records before any Court order is made. The amendment to the Registration Act is expected to be part of the Government‘s next legislative agenda.
During the last sitting, the AG tabled several bills to improve the lives of citizens; these included the Hire Purchase Bill 2020, the Law Reform Commission (Amendment) Bill and the Deceased Persons Estates’ Administration (Amendment) Bill 2020.
In terms of the hire purchase it provides protection for people who are buying items on credit in the form of hire purchase. Presently, someone who purchases an item under a hire purchase agreement only owns the item after making the final payment. This means that the supplier can repossess the item if the consumer fails to make the final payment. The Bill was introduced to the National Assembly to offer a number of protections to customers before businesses can exercise their right to forfeit the item.
In terms of the Law Reform Commission (Amendment) Bill 2020, it was introduced to the House to allow a wider range of eligible candidates to be appointed to the Commission. The amendment will see the appointment of persons other than lawyers, including individuals trained in finance, natural and social sciences, and law enforcement. It will also mandate that consultations are undertaken before nominees are appointed.
The Deceased Persons Estates’ Administration (Amendment) Bill 2020 seeks to increase the value for estates from $1,000 to $750,000 for which the Registrar may summarily appoint an administrator where the deceased does not leave a legal will. Under the current Act, letters of administration are not required for small estates where the value does not exceed $1,000.
Additionally, the amendment also seeks to allow, in the absence of letters of administration, a bank manager to pay a claimant from the savings of a deceased person, a sum not exceeding $750,000. The current Act restricts the amount to $1,000. The sum may only be withdrawn where the savings of the deceased does not exceed $750,000.
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