New Zealand Law Society - Canterbury property boundary bill endorsed

Canterbury property boundary bill endorsed

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The local government and environment select committee has released its report on the Canterbury Property Boundaries and Related Matter Bill, recommending that it be passed with amendments.

The objective of the bill is to provide certainty, and to support the regeneration of Christchurch, by clarifying the law relating to legal property boundaries in Christchurch. 

About 11,000 properties are estimated to have moved by at least 20 centimetres as a result of the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes.

The report recommends including earthquakes and aftershocks between 4 February 2016 and 14 February 2022 to the definition of "Canterbury earthquakes".

It says early data on the 14 February 2016 earthquake suggests that future boundary movement has occurred. The committee says the amendment would help to future-proof the legislation and clarify for surveyors that they must take movement since the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes into account.

While most submitters suggested that the bill include a dispute-resolution framework for resolving disputes about property boundaries, the committee says it considers existing processes under the Property Law Act 2007 and the Land Transfer Act provide adequate mechanisms to resolve disputes.

It says adding a further dispute-resolution framework could introduce further complexity.

A further recommended amendment would specify that, provided the specified criteria are met, there would be no liability for surveys and boundary determinations done in the period between 4 September 2010 and the commencement of the legislation once the bill has been enacted.

The bill was referred to the committee on 3 November 2015 with submissions closing on 15 January 2016. The committee received 11 submissions and heard from five of these. 

The New Zealand Law Society submission on the bill supported its remedial intention. The Law Society raised a concern about how the bill treated the portion of surveys completed subsequent to the earthqaukes but before the legislation solution comes into effect.

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