From its origins in South Australia, the Torrens systen1 of land registration
has become a truly global export. With the notable exception of much of the
United States, its reach in the Asia-Pacific region (most notably in the
Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Singapore and Malaysia) is extensive.
However, despite a broad acknowledgement that indefeasibility is the
linchpin of the Torrens system, there is a far less harmonious approach on
how this concept should integrate with established property law doctrines.
With Australia and New Zealand adopting immediate indefeasibility, other
countries have softened the often harsh, immoral nature of this doctrine by
preferring to utilise deferred indefeasibility. The debate between deferred
and immediate indefeasibility has long raged and a doctrinal remedy
appears intractable. The purpose of this article is to see how consumer law
may inform the argument. The purchaser of land is no less of a consumer
than what we rnay intuitively associate with this term, and given the higher
expense, greater risk and more embedded emotional commitment
associated with the purchase of a home, the consumer safeguards are no
less deserving of consideration. The suggestion is made that immediate
indefeasibility can meet consumer goals, but that greater education is
needed to ensure that the fragility associated with title in the Torrens system
is understood by its consumers, and that safeguards can be taken to protect
against loss associated with the adoption of this doctrine.