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Property Stories: How Torrens Title Failed to Solve All the Problems ...

This is a reminder that Paul Babie, Professor and Associate Dean, Adelaide Law School, Australia and John Orth of UNC's law school will be presenting a lunchtime program on the Torrens system on November 7 at UNC Law's faculty lounge.  The program, entitled "Property Stories: How Torrens Title Failed to Solve All the Problems, and Actually Created Some," is as follows:

 The Prisoners of Adams Creek: Family, Race, Adverse Possession, and Torrens Title in North Carolina – John Orth

Beginning in 2002, litigation in Carteret County that began as a family quarrel has sent North Carolina lawyers scrambling to understand Torrens Title, has raised uncomfortable questions about the collision between race and the Progressive attempt to simplify land titles, and has led to the years-long imprisonment of two African-American men for contempt.  Adams Creek Assocs. v. Davis, 746 S.E.2d 1 (N.C. Ct. App.), disc. rev. denied, 748 S.E.2d 322 (N.C. 2013); Buck v. Davis, 772 S.E.2d 707 (N.C. 2015) (denying writ of habeas corpus).

The Carey Gulley Squatter: Crown and Possessory Title of Torrens Land in South Australia – Paul Babie

Recent events in South Australia surrounding an alleged ‘squatter’ on Torrens land emphasise the ongoing importance of some fundamental principles of English land law in Australia: the Crown’s interest in all Australian land, be it known either as escheat or bona vacantia, and the related concepts of possession and adverse possession of land.  Seldom seen and therefore little understood, each of these principles continues to operate in respect of Torrens land.

After a brief introduction in Part I of this article, Part II recounts the intriguing events surrounding the alleged ‘Carey Gulley Squatter’ in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia.  Using those events as a factual matrix, Part III explores the operation of escheat/bona vacantia in relation to Torrens land.  Part IV considers possessory title to Torrens land, with particular focus on the nature of that right both before title by adverse possession might be recognized (‘inchoate possessory title’), and after (‘possessory title’), and the caveatability of either form of title.  In both cases, I consider the position if a private individual is the registered proprietor and if the Crown is the holder.

Please let Al Brophy know if you'd like a copy of the paper (


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