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Dubai Delays New Land Ownership Laws

by Lorys Charalambous,, Cyprus

01 November 2006

The Dubai International Financial Centre Authority (DIFCA) has decided to extend the consultation period on the introduction of a new law guaranteeing ownership of freehold land and interest in land within the DIFC, due to "extensive public interest".

As a result, the public will have an additional 30 days to comment on the DIFC Real Property Law 2006 and the Strata Title Law 2006. The previous consultation period ran from 13 August until 13 September, 2006.

According to the DIFC, over 200 submissions were received during the initial consultation period, and many proposals were incorporated into the revised versions of the laws.

The Real Property Law will allow companies and individuals to hold freehold ownership of real estate within the Dubai International Financial Centre. It is based on the underlying principles of English common law, but also incorporates the Torrens system of land registration, well known in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Singapore.

Under the Real Property Law, land transactions are registered in a central register administered in the DIFC. Once registered, the Law certifies them to be fully effective. Unlike some other systems of land registration, title interests registered under the Real Property Law are “indefeasible”. In practical terms, this means that persons buying real estate in the DIFC, or, lending on the security of real estate in the DIFC, or taking a lease of real estate in the DIFC, can be assured that their investment is backed by the full protection of the Law.

The Strata Title Law establishes a system of guaranteed freehold title to units in buildings in the DIFC. It is based on the system originally developed in Australia, but now in use in many countries around the world, including Singapore. The Law combines the benefits of guaranteed title under the Real Property Law with an administrative structure designed to handle the day-to-day management of buildings. It will help overcome the complexities of co-owners association constitutions, master community declarations, and the like, by introducing a simple but comprehensive system of rights and responsibilities. It incorporates many of the key concepts of existing co-owners association arrangements already in use in Dubai, but simplifies them and adds a title guarantee.

The DIFC says that when introduced, the new laws will provide an internationally proven system of and registration and real property ownership, in line with the DIFC’s mission to become one of the world's leading international financial centres.

The laws will be enacted by the Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum after the extended consulation has been concluded.

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