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37.0101 Registration-Absence of conflicting claim a prerequisite.

Cite as [A.S.C.A. § 37.0101]

(a) The owner of any land in American Samoa not previously registered may register his title thereto with the Territorial Registrar.

(b) No title to land shall be registered unless the Registrar is satisfied that there is no conflicting claim thereto and unless the description clearly identifies the boundaries of the land by metes and bounds.

(c) Every registration shall specify whether the land is registered as family owned communal land or individually owned land.

History: 1962, PL 7-31; 1968, PL 10-38; readopted 1980, PL 16-88 §§ 1, 2; 1982, PL 17-31 §§ 1, 2.

Case Notes:

Registration of land forbidden when made while another registration application pending. Fuimaono v. Penitusi, ASR (1978).

Denied registration because survey map and description offered are defective and conflicting claim resulting from occupancy without objection by Tuavela, who also are attempting to register land. Atualevao v. Talio, ASR (1978).

Recognized individually owned land but does not define it; courts definition is: (1) cleared on individual’s own initiative; (2) cultivated by him; and (3) occupied by him. Fanene v. Talio, ASR (1977).

Title to land cannot be registered unless registrar is satisfied that there are no conflicting claims and unless description clearly identifies boundaries of land. RCAS 10.0112. Tuai v. Savea, 4 ASR 483 (1964).

Code requires that all boundaries of land be identified by metes and bounds before it may be registered. RCAS 10.0112. Largo v. Mageo, 4 ASR 287 (1962).

Since land may not be registered where there are unmitigated or unresolved competing claims (including pending lawsuits regarding registrar must deny such registration. A.S.C.A. § 34.0101(b). Lealaimatafao v. Misiaita, 17 A.S.R.2d 110 (1990).

Absent any evidence of fraud, registration of title to land pursuant to legislative procedures (which require, inter alia, public posting of an offer of registration for sixty days during which any objections must be filed) cannot be questioned. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq. Ifopo v. Siatu’u, 10 A.S.R.2d 66 (1989).

Statutory proceedings for registration of land have in rem effect. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq. Ifopo v. Siatu’u, 10 A.S.R.2d 66 (1989).

Party who does not timely object to another’s offer to registrar land cannot later claim such land by filing a notice of adverse claim or by offering to and registering title to such land. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0103, 37.0101(b). Lealaimatafao v. Misiaita, 17 A.S.R.2d 110 (1990).

The mere filing of a document with the Registrar, without compliance with either the procedures for the registration of land or those for the conveyance of communal land, conveys no title. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq., §§ 37.0201 et seq. Magalei v. Atualevao, 19 A.S.R.2d 86 (1991).

Because failure to meet statutory notice requirement can deprive family members of an adequate opportunity to object to the registration of title, compliance with the statutory notice requirements for registrations of title is an essential feature of the registration process. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq. Vaimaona v. Tuitasi, 22 A.S.R.2d 1 (1992).

Courts may disregard land registrations if the failure to give notice, as required by statute, appears in the registration record itself. A.S.C.A. § 37.0101 et seq. Fa’aaua’a v. Tauiliili, 15 A.S.R.2d 71 (1990).

Land can only be registered by its owner and not a village, because the concept of village ownership of land is ordinarily contrary to Samoan custom and tradition. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq. Lualemana v. Atualevao, 16 A.S.R.2d 34 (1990).

Where the registered title to land was procured by fraud, the records of the Territorial Registrar may be amended to show the correct owners even though such registration proceedings usually have in rem effect and certificates of title obtained thereby are ordinarily conclusive. A.S.C.A. § 37.0101. Fania v. Sipili, 14 A.S.R.2d 70 (1990).

Compliance with the land-registration statute creates a strong presumption that the land belongs to the person or persons named in the certificate of registration; this presumption is conclusive unless rebutted by either (a) compelling proof that the certificate of registration was obtained by fraud or (b) fatal irregularities affirmatively appearing on the face of the registration documents. A.S.C.A. § 37.0101 et seq. Ava v. Logoai, 19 A.S.R.2d 75 (1991).

Statute providing that land should not be registered when a competing application for registration is pending neither renders void a final judgment entered in violation of its terms, nor otherwise permits a collateral attack on that judgment. A.S.C.A. § 37.0101. Tela v. Aoelua, 12 A.S.R.2d 40 (1989).

Parties who did not object to offer for registration of land in accordance with statutory procedure were bound by the result in the ensuing registration proceeding, because registration proceedings have in rem effect. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq. Tufono .v. Vaeao, 13 A.S.R.2d 47 (1989).

The court is bound to recognize a land survey which has been registered according to law. A.S.C.A. § 37.0101 et seq. Willis v. Fai’ivae, 17 A.S.R.2d 38 (1990).

That land registered in the name of one party can later be proved to have been property of person other than registrant will not void a registration otherwise performed in accordance with statute if the true owner did not object within the period prescribed by statute. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq. Faleafine v. Suapilimai, 7 A.S.R.2d 108 (1988).

Land registration performed in accordance with statutory procedures will be given full effect even though party who might have objected did not discover the proposed registration in time to object. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq. Faleafine v. Suapilimai, 7 A.S.R.2d 108 (1988).

When no adverse claim was filed with respect to part of a survey offered for registration, and where the evidence reflected that this land had in fact been settled and occupied by the applicant for registration, the uncontested portion could be registered as the property of the applicant. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq. Maea v. Manuu, 11 A.S.R.2d 93 (1989).

Where the evidence showed that disputed land was originally cleared and cultivated by the village in a collective effort, and tracts surveyed by various families within the village overlapped one another and extended beyond any evidence of recent cultivation, no party had proven entitlement to the land by the preponderance of the evidence and all offers of registration should be denied. A.S.C.A. offers of registration should be denied. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq. Maea v. Manuu, 11 A.S.R.2d 93 (1989).

Land registration statute, under which any objection to proposed registration must be filed within sixty days or land is registered in the name of the claimant and all other claims of ownership are forever precluded, does not amount to a judicial transfer of land from the “true” owner to the registered owner; rather, the statute gives anyone who believes himself the owner of land a fair opportunity to present his claim to the court, and then conclusively presumes that any one who did not avail himself of this opportunity was not the true owner of the land. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq. Ifopo v. Siatu’u, 12 A.S.R.2d 24 (1989).

Land registration statute gave competing claimants sixty days in which to urge any objection to the proposed registration, including objection that the land was communal and that no sale was approved by the Land Commission or by the Governor. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq., 37.0204. Ifopo v. Siatu’u, 12 A.S.R.2d 24 (1989).

Where objections to land registration based on statutory procedures for alienation of communal land were not raised within sixty days of proposed registration, the law conclusively presumes either that the procedures for alienation of communal land were met or that the land was not communal. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et. Seq., 37.0204. Ifopo v. Siatu’u, 12 A.S.R.2d 24 (1989).

Purpose of requirement that objection to proposed registration of land be made within sixty days was to relieve the registrant of the burden of affirmatively proving every fact necessary to establish title after the passage of many years, during which witnesses would tend to die and documents to be lost or destroyed. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq. Ifopo v. Siatu’u, 12 A.S.R.2d 24 (1989).

Where statutory scheme including land registration procedure and restrictions on alienation of communal land effected its own reconciliation of competing policies, there was no need for a court to fashion a new and different one by refusing to enforce land registration statute. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq., § 37.0204. Ifopo v. Siatu’u, 12 A.S.R.2d 24 (1989).

Courts can and do disregard land registrations that are clearly proved to have been procured by fraud, or in which the failure to afford required notice affirmatively appears in the record of the registration. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq. Ifopo v. Siatu’u, 12 A.S.R.2d 24 (1989).

Territorial Registrar is charged with registering title to land only when all statutory registration procedures have been met, and court should not assume that he did not comply with this obligation. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq. Ifopo v. Siatu’u, 12 A.S.R.2d 24 (1989).

Court could not conclude that notice required by statute was not given simply because the registrar’s file contained no document attesting such notice, or because a number of witnesses testified that they never saw any notices. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq. Ifopo v. Siatu’u, 12 A.S.R.2d 24 (1989).

Land registration statute cannot have the intended effect of affording finality to disputes and security to titles if court is prepared to conduct its own de novo review of whether there was compliance with the statute in every case where non-compliance is alleged; rather, court must assume—and absent compelling evidence to the contrary must conclude- that Territorial Registrar recorded a title only after complying with his obligations under the law. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq. Ifopo v. Siatu’u, 12 A.S.R.2d 24 (1989).

Purpose of statute providing that land should not be registered when a competing application for registration is pending is to preclude registration until competing claimants have opportunity to be heard; arty who was an objector to a proposed registration and whose competing claim was fully heard and decided was therefore not prejudiced by the court’s failure to determine his competing application for registration at the same time. A.S.C.A. § 37.0101. Tela v. Aoelua, 12 A.S.R.2d 40 (1989).

Territorial land registration statute gives anyone who believes himself the owner of land a fair opportunity to present his claim to the court, and then conclusively presumes that anyone who did not avail himself of this opportunity was not the true owner of the land. A.S.C.A. § 37.0101 et seq. Meafua v. Taliu, 13 A.S.R.2d 13 (1989).

Temporary absence from the vicinity during the time when land was surveyed and offer of registration posted did not excuse failure to object to the registration during statutory 60-day period. A.S.C.A. § 37.0101 et seq. Meafua v. Taliu, 13 A.S.R.2d 13 (989).

Testimony of matai that he always attended village council meetings and always looked at the post on which notices were posed, but had not heard the opposing party’s survey announced and had not seen notice of her registration posted, was insufficient to rebut the presumption of validity of certificates by officials charged with announcing the survey and posting the notice, especially where matai admitted that the frequently travels abroad and may have done so during the time in question. A.S.C.A. § 37.0101 et seq. Meafua v. Taliu, 13 A.S.R.2d 13 (1989).

Court must assume, and absent compelling proof to the contrary must conclude, that Territorial Registrar recorded a title only after complying with his obligations under the law. A.S.C.A. § 37.0101 et seq. Meafua v. Taliu, 13 A.S.R.2d 13 (1989).

Under territorial statute dealing with “titles to land, ” a procedurally valid registration precludes subsequent judicial inquiry into the validity of the record owner’s title; anyone who wishes to object on any ground whatever to the registrant’s claim of ownership has sixty days within which to do so, and in the absence of such objection the land is registered in the name of the claimant and all other claims of ownership are forever precluded. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq. Vaimaona v. Tuitasi (Mem.), 13 .A.S.R.2d 76 (1989).

Distinction between separate statutory procedures for registration “of the land” and “of the deed” is best characterized as a distinction between substance and procedure: compliance with the land registration statute protects the landowner by precluding rival claimants from attacking the record owner’s title, whereas the statute on land alienation leaves rival claimants procedurally free to object to the record owner’s title but provides that anyone who complies with its provisions becomes the lawful owner of the land. A.S.C.A.§§ 37.0101 et seq., 37.0201 et seq. Vaimaona v. Tuitasi (Mem.), 13 A.S.R.2d 76 (1989).

It would be to the advantage of a party who purchases land that has never been previously registered to apply for registration in accordance with both the “titles” chapter and the “alienation” chapter. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq. Vaimaona v. Tuitasi (Mem.), 13 A.S.R.2d 76 (1989).

Registrar’s certificate of title is presumed to be valid and a party asserting its procedural irregularity has the burden of presenting compelling proof. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq. Vaimaona v. Tuitasi (Mem.), 13 A.S.R.2d 76 (1989).

Land registration statute does not require that posting of notices be evidenced by an affidavit or by any other particular form of notice. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq. Vaimaona v. Tuitasi (Mem.), 13 A.S.R.2d 76 (1989).

Petition for quiet title was denied absent a survey and proof of compliance with the title registration statute. A.S.C.A. § 37.0101 et seq. Vaivao v. Craddick, 14 A.S.R.2d 108 (1990).

Court may disregard land registrations if the failure to give statutory notice appears in the registration record itself. A.S.C.A. § 37.0101 et seq. Afualo v. Fanene, Pualioa v. Afualo, 15 A.S.R.2d 48 (1990).

A land registration, effected in accordance with all statutory procedures, establishes good title against the world, and a later registration of the same land is of no legal effect. A.S.C.A. § 37.0101 et seq. Fa’aaua’a v. Tauiliili, 15 A.S.R.2d 71 (1990).

A valid registration effected in accordance with statutory procedures establishes a title good against the world. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq. Lualemana v.Atualevao, 16 A.S.R.2d 34 (1990).

A land survey may not be registered until the owner has complied with the statutory requirements. A.S.C.A. § 37.0101 et seq. Willis v. Fai’ivae, 17 A.S.R.2d 179 (1990).

A survey which has never been posted in accordance with statutory requirements cannot be registered. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq. Magalei v. Atualevao, 19 A.S.R.2d 86 (1991).