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Overview Of The Land Title Inquiry Act

In This Volume

The Land Title Inquiry Act (formerly the Quieting Titles Act) deals with the “quieting” of title; that is, the judicial investigation of title and the ascertainment and declaration by the court of the validity and conclusiveness of title.


Other than the first indefeasible title, the act does not address inquiries about indefeasible titles. Rather, it sets out requirements for applications to the court whereby title to unregistered land can be investigated and the validity of title determined. Upon the issuance by the court of a declaration of title, the declaration must be deposited in the land title office and the registrar must issue an indefeasible title in the name of the owner. The Act also sets out the powers and duties of the court and the effect of certain abnormalities in proceedings on a declaration of title. Under s. 21, the court may refer a petition presented under the Act to the registrar of titles and the registrar must proceed as the court would under the Act if the court had not made the reference.


Relevant Provisions under Land Title Act

Adverse Possession

See s. 171 of the Land Title Act, which provides:

  • 171 An application founded in whole or in part on adverse possession must not be accepted by the registrar unless permitted by this Act and supported by a declaration of title under the Land Title Inquiry Act.

See also s. 23(3) and (4) of the Land Title Act, which provide:

  • (3) After an indefeasible title is registered, a title adverse to or in derogation of the title of the registered owner is not acquired by length of possession.
  • (4) Despite subsection (3), in the case only of the first indefeasible title registered, it is void against the title of a person adversely in actual possession of and rightly entitled to the land included in the indefeasible title at the time registration was applied for and who continues in possession.

Appeal of Registrar’s Refusal to Register

See s. 309(6) of the Land Title Act, which provides:

  • 309 (6) If the refusal of the registrar to effect registration in accordance with the application made to the registrar is stated to be on the ground that the applicant’s title must be declared under the Land Title Inquiry Act, the court may order that the proceedings under this section be governed by that Act.

Secondary Sources

See Di Castri, Registration of Title to Land, vol. 1, paras. 49 and 206, and vol. 3, paras. 842 and 845.


Scope of the Act

The petitioner attempted to invoke the Act where the deceased had failed to give the petitioner a conveyance after he claimed to have made all payments under an agreement for sale. The Act does not give a court any power to vest an outstanding interest in an applicant. The most a court can do under the Act is to declare a title that already exists (Re Quieting Titles Act; Re Waters; Re Sherman, 1957 CanLII 542 (BC SC)).

The purpose of the Act is to allow the court to investigate “presently existing titles” and to make declarations of validity (Re Quieting Titles Act; Re a Certain Lot, New Westminster District, 1962 CanLII 538 (BC SC)).

The Act provides the machinery for a court to investigate an “unquiet” title, such as a title based on prescription or rights acquired by accretion. The applicant may have no documentary evidence of title or may have lost such evidence. The Act has no application to indefeasible titles (Re Quieting Titles Act; Re a Certain Lot, Kootenay District, 1967 CanLII 507 (BC SC)).

See also the discussion of Re Victoria (City), 2020 BCSC 1942 in “23 Effect of indefeasible title” in chapter 3 and “171 Adverse possession” in chapter 12.