Administration of Estates Bill, 1957—Report and Final Stages.

I move amendment No. 1:—

In page 3, Section 1 (2) (b), line 23, to delete "January" and substitute "April".

With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I suggest that amendments Nos. 1 to 8 and 12, 19 and 20 be discussed together. They are all the same.

For the record, would the Minister mention why he is changing the date from 1st January to 1st April?

In actual fact, we are changing "April" now to "June" because we believe that we would not have the Bill in time to give practitioners sufficient time to examine the Bill and we are extending the date to June. When it was "January", we were discussing the matter early in November and we thought that we would have the Bill through by 1st January. We now feel that we are too near to April to insist on April and we propose June for the purpose I mentioned.

I do not quite follow that. The amendments speak of deleting the word "January" and substituting the word "April". To take a typical one of these amendments, the Bill says:—

"Parts II and III of this Act shall not apply to the estate of any person dying before the first day of January, 1959."

And the amendment is designed to make that read:—

"Parts II and II of this Act shall not apply to the estate of any person dying before the first day of April, 1959."

Where does June come into it?

The procedure would be that the House might agree to "April", and the Minister would ask for permission of the House to move to change "April" to "June".

This is a very interesting revelation coming from the Chair at this stage, because, as I understood, the Minister told me the effect of the amendment which he had moved was to change it from "April" to "June".

I think the Minister had in mind that he would move to amend the amendment.

I am trying to assist him.

With the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, I propose to substitute "June" for "April" in the notice of each of the amendments where the word "April" occurs.

I am now a little at sea. These amendments were circulated to-day——

That is not correct. These amendments have been circulated for a considerable time.

The longer they have been circulated, the more astonishing it is that the Minister should come in here to-day and tell us that they mean something quite different from what they do mean. Fortunately, I directed his attention to it, or we would have adopted them all, and he would have had to come back from the Seanad to correct his oversight.

Has the Deputy any objection to the amendments?

I have no objection at all. I understand the Minister is not moving these amendments, but is moving different amendments. Is that correct?

The amendment the Minister is moving is an amendment to change the date from "January" to "April". If the House agrees to that amendment, the Minister will then move to change it to "June".

We shall facilitate the Minister in anything he wants to do. However, the amendment before me is one to change the date from "January" to "April". If he wants to change the date from "January" to "June", we have no objection.

I understood that the amendments, as they appear on the Order Paper, enshrine the results of an agreement. Can the Minister state if there has been any further going over the matter with the parties who arrived at the agreement in order to extend the date for three months?

I am moving all these amendments, subject to the agreement of the House to the substitution of "June" for "April". That is all I am asking. I am now asking, with the permission of the Chair, to substitute "June" for "April". I have already mentioned the purpose behind the change. It is to give practitioners sufficient time to have an opportunity of examining and becoming familiar with the Bill. If the House objects to "June", we will accept "May".

We have no objection.

I understand that no principle is involved in this at all. The Minister's amendments were circulated on the basis that the Bill would be through the House and available to give practitioners time to make adjustments before 1st April. That is not now practicable, I understand. Consequently, it is desired to substitute "1st June" for "1st April". Instead of getting ourselves tied up with the amendments, can we not look at the target, instead, and arrange to let the Minister do whatever he wants to do with the amendments which have been submitted and, when embodied in the Bill, give the Minister permission to substitute "1st June" for "1st April"? That seems to be the regularisation which is necessary.

That is the exact position.

We would agree to that. If there is any question of going back on any agreement that is of practical importance, I take it the Minister would agree to have the matter rectified in the Seanad? That was an agreed date which, I understand, by reason of delay, has gone out of order.

What amendments does the Minister want to have amended?

Amendments Nos. 1 to 8, 12, 19 and 20. The word "April" occurs in these.

And No. 16.

And, in each of these cases, the Minister wants to insert "1st June"? What about amendment No. 17?

No; it does not arise there.

Very well. May I ask this question at this stage? If these amendments are made, will it be possible to get this Bill printed as passed by Dáil Éireann in the same form as this green paper we have here? The reason for that is a technical one. The Bill, as we have it here before us, contains certain references to previous Statutes which do not appear in the white Act, if, and when, enacted. Will the notes be printed in the green form?

We will have that done.

Amendment, as altered, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:—

In page 4, Section 3, line 13, to delete "January" and substitute "June".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 3:—

In page 4, Section 4, line 16, to delete "January" and substitute "June".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 4:—

In page 4, Section 5, line 21, to delete "January" and substitute "June".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 5:—

In page 5, Section 7 (3) (a), line 26, to delete "January" and substitute "June".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 6:—

In page 5, Section 7 (3) (b), line 33, to delete "January" and substitute "June".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 7:—

In page 5, Section 8, line 47, to delete "January" and substitute "June".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 8:—

In page 6, Section 12 (1), line 28, to delete "January" and substitute "June".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 9:—

In page 6, Section 14 (2) (a), line 53, to delete "under" and substitute "at".

This is purely a drafting amendment.

And there is no technical difference between the amount under which the estate of the deceased——

This is a drafting amendment designed to cover a point raised on Committee Stage. The words "under which" appear in Section 87 of the Irish Probates and Letters of Administration Act, 1857, from which sub-section (2) (a) of Section 14 is taken. I am advised that in the old days the estates of deceased persons were sworn to be "under the value of a certain sum" and this wording is to be found, for instance, in Section 117 of the Probate Duty (Ireland) Act, 1816. Now they are sworn at a particular sum, and the change proposed in the amendment will, accordingly, be more appropriate to modern conditions.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 10:—

In page 8, Section 17 (2) (c), line 1, to delete "the place and time" and substitute "address and the date".

This is a drafting amendment designed to make the provision in Section 17 (2) (c) conform with the existing form of the calendars of grants. What is shown in the calendar is the name and address and the date of death of the testator or intestate.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 10 (a):—

In page 9, Section 20 (1) (a), line 15, to insert "or intestate" after "testator".

This is a drafting amendment. The words "or intestate" should be inserted after the word "testator". The references in the section are to the land of a testator or intestate.

That is simply inserting the words "or intestate"—a printer's error?

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 11:—

In page 10, Section 20 (7) (b), line 12, to delete "when" and substitute "where".

This is a drafting amendment. I understand that "where", not "when", is the proper legal word. "Where" is used in paragraph (a) of the sub-section.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 12:—

In page 10, Section 22 (1), line 53, to delete "January" and substitute "June".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 13:—

In page 11, Section 22, to insert before sub-section (4), between lines 10 and 11, the following new sub-section:—

() Where a person is registered as the full owner or limited owner of land under sub-section (3) of this section, the costs incurred in connection with the registration shall be borne by that person.

The object of this amendment is to set down in statutory form what I am advised is the existing practice and law in regard to the registration of assents and transfers in the Land Registry. I mentioned this matter on the Committee Stage when I was discussing what is now sub-section (2) of Section 21. The sub-section proposed in the present amendment in regard to registered land corresponds with the said sub-section (2) of Section 21, which deals with unregistered land.

The plain truth is that I have not the faintest notion of the merits or demerits of this proposal. All I know is that it is new. It does not seem to fix by statute the burden of costs on one particular person. The Minister says that this merely gives statutory effect to existing practice. I do not know whether it does or not, but, if the practice is already as it is at present, why need we introduce this statutory provision?

This is the ordinary law and that is all we propose to enact.

This is the ordinary normal practice, I suppose, but if it is, why do we introduce an amendment to the law to make it mandatory, if it is already going on?

It is the law as well as the practice.

How is it necessary to introduce this sub-section, if it is already the law? Why does the Minister think it necessary to bring it in? I only want to know. He notes on his amendment sheet that this is a new law as distinct from the other amendments.

I cannot say any more than I have said. This sort of thing is often done, putting the ordinary law into statutory form.

This whole Bill requires an act of faith.

This is a dangerous position to get into. If we change the law relating to the administration of estates and find ourselves in the position that the Minister does not know why, that I do not know why, and that the Leader of the Labour Party says that in respect of these matters it is necessary to make an act of faith——

I am advised that we often put the law into statutory form and I have told the Deputy that, and I cannot tell him anything more than that it is desirable in the present case.

I am not questioning the Minister, but it is a matter that nobody knows about. All I want to do is to sound a note of caution. It is not a healthy thing that Dáil Eireann should be treated like a mincing machine. If it is desired to introduce a change of the law, great or small, the House should be told why and I do not think the House is being told why.

It is to make the law more definite than we find it at the moment.

If the existing practice is that certain people pay the costs of certain proceedings, we ought to be told why it is thought desirable to make it a statutory obligation on this person to pay the costs and to withdraw the matter from the jurisdiction of whomever exercises that jurisdiction at present. I do not think the Minister knows; I do not know and the Leader of the Labour Party does not know, and I demur to amendments being presented on this stage of the Bill, the nature of which nobody understands. I think I am entitled to ask the Minister this: was this proposal sought, or envisaged, on the Committee Stage of the Bill? Was this matter mentioned?

I cannot go back on the matter. I have not got the Dáil Debates with me but I am informed that this was mentioned on the Committee Stage. I think what I mentioned when introducing the amendment did clarify the position. What I stated then was clear enough—"The object of this amendment is to set down in statutory form what I am advised is the existing practice and law in regard to the registration of assents and transfers in the Land Registry. I mentioned this matter on the Committee Stage when I was discussing what is now sub-section (2) of Section 21. The sub-section proposed in the present amendment in regard to registered land corresponds with the said sub-section (2) of Section 21 which deals with unregistered land." Now, I cannot clarify the matter better than that, and I do not intend to.

I do not think that is the way to go about this business. I think the Minister is vexed because I asked him to explain something which he thinks he has explained and which I do not think he has explained. I do not think he should be vexed.

I am not vexed; I just cannot understand the Deputy's forcing an issue of this kind when the explanation makes the question fairly clear. Anyway, I am not a legal expert.

I do not think it is clear. The Minister referred to sub-section (2) of Section 21.

Yes, that is right.

It says there:—

"Any person in whose favour an assent or conveyance of any unregistered land is made by personal representatives may at his own expense require the personal representatives to register that assent or conveyance in the Registry of Deeds pursuant to the Registration of Deeds Act, 1707."

This amendment proposes that "Where a person is registered as the full owner or limited owner of land under sub-section (3) of this section, the costs incurred in connection with the registration shall be borne by that person." I do not see the clear position beween sub-section (2), Section 21, and the new sub-section which it is proposed to insert here. Quite frankly, I do not understand the meaning fully and I do not think anybody else does. I do not think the Minister does. I do not want to obstruct the Minister in a matter of this kind. I have done my duty in drawing attention to it. This is the Report Stage of the Bill and we do not want to hold up the Minister in getting this Bill through the House, but it is wise that this matter should be fully ventilated so that the Seanad, if corrective measures are necessary, may be made aware of the position through this debate.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 14:—

In page 11, Section 22 (2), line 27, to delete "lands" and substitute "land".

This is a drafting amendment. It is merely to make the word "land""lands".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 15:—

In page 11, before Section 23, but in Part III, between lines 37 and 38, to insert the following new section :—

The jurisdiction, in relation to any land, exercisable by the Circuit Court under this Part of this Act shall be exercised by the judge of the Circuit Court for the time being assigned to the circuit where the land or any part of the land is situate.

This amendment proposes to specify the particular judge of the Circuit Court who is to exercise the jurisdiction conferred on that court under Part III. The Circuit Court is given jurisdiction in regard to the vesting of land and the registration of ownership of land in Sections 20 and 22. This jurisdiction is a type of title jurisdiction. For that reason, it has been decided to make the provision in regard to it similar to the existing provision for ordinary title jurisdiction and rectification of the register. This latter provision will be found in Section 52 of the Courts of Justice Act, 1924.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 16:—

In page 13, Section 24 (2) (b), line 6, to insert ", as respects the estates of persons dying on or after the 1st day of June, 1959," after "may".

This is a drafting amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 17:—

In page 13, Section 25, lines 11 and 12, to delete "which comes into operation on the 1st day of January, 1959,".

This is a drafting amendment. There is no need for the words which it is proposed to delete. Allowing them to remain in the section might cause confusion. This is because of the fact that Section 25 will not come into operation until the 1st June next. It is from this date that the Statute of Limitations provision will stand amended although the Statute, as unamended, has been in operation since the 1st January last. The need for amending the Statute is that the Bill proposes that real property will, after the 1st June next, devolve on the personal representative. We want to make it clear that, where the property so devolves, the personal representative may plead the Statute, except where he is guilty of fraud. This new type of personal representative is not covered in the Statute of Limitations for the simple reason that he did not exist at the time the Statute was enacted. The devolution of real property on the personal representative will arise only as regards deaths on and after the 1st June next. I am mentioning this because there seems to have been some doubt as to the necessity for Section 25 of the Bill.

The Statute of Limitations, 1957, was, I understand, a consolidation Act when it was passed by this House and the Seanad. I understand it was then said to be the case that in this country all Statutes of Limitations were now to be found in one Bill which had become an Act, to wit, the Statute of Limitations, 1957 (No. 6 of 1957). It seems a pity that having achieved that operation of consolidation, we are now amending that consolidating Statute of Limitations, 1957, not by another Statute of Limitations, but by a section in the Administration of Estates Bill. I wonder would the Minister consider bringing in Section 25 as a separate Bill, under the title of a Statute of Limitations, so that the consolidated law relating to Statutes of Limitations would continue to be available in Statutes of Limitations rather than the wide diversity of Acts which will be the case if the procedure here followed is adopted elsewhere?

I am informed that every Statute of Limitation is not consolidated in the 1957 Act. We have to amend the 1957 Act because the law is being changed. We now will have a new type of personal representative as respects real property. Section 25 of the Bill does not come into operation until 1st of June next, while the Statute of Limitations came into operation on 1st January last.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 18:—

In page 13, Section 25, line 18, to delete "(No. of 1958)".

This is a drafting amendment. The draftsman proposes to leave out the words in brackets and the brackets. The reference to the proposed Administration of Estates Act in the section will now correspond to the reference to the proposed Act in Section 22.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 19:—

In page 13, First Schedule, in the heading, to delete "January" and substitute "June".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 20:—

In page 14, Second Schedule, in the heading, to delete "January" and substitute "June".

Amendment agreed to.
Bill, as amended, received for final consideration and passed.