The Supreme Court has approved the use of section 84(1)(a) of the Property Law Act 1958 as a means of cleansing a title of a reference to a restrictive covenant with no further work to do.
Practitioners have in the past found that Titles Office officials have refused to remove a reference to a restrictive covenant from a certificate of title, unless directly ordered to do so by the Court.
In turn, the Court has expressed reservations about being able to direct the removal of the covenant from a title solely pursuant to its declaratory power under section 84(2) of the Property Law Act 1958.
The end result is that an originating motion seeking a declaration that a restrictive covenant is ineffective, should also seek a consequential finding of obsolescence.
In Re Pomroy  VSC 739, the court held:
“83. It follows that the third element required in order for the Covenant to run with the Subject Land and burden the plaintiff, being a successor in title, is not present. This is because the Covenant has not been given for the benefit of land and does not touch or concern that land.
84. As the benefit of the Covenant is unenforceable by any persons other than the Covenantees, it can no longer be said to affect the Subject Land.”
The Court then agreed to its powers under section 84(1)(a) as a consequence of this finding:
The plaintiff submits that with respect to s 84(1)(a), if the Court is of the view that the Covenant is ineffective and therefore no longer has any work to do, it would be appropriate to issue an order for its removal from title to the Subject Land.
I agree with this submission and will therefore make such an order.
A copy of the submissions presented to the Court can be found here.