How to register Customary Land Through in incorporated Land Group (ILG) in PNG

 In Papua New Guinea, the registration of customary land under the ownership of an entire clan, rather than an individual, remains a question for many. Legal advice on this matter is scarce, leaving most people reliant on the Lands Department officials for guidance. Unfortunately, this reliance can be perilous, as misinformation and exploitation are common among those unfamiliar with the system.

The avenue to register customary land for an entire clan involves the formation of an Incorporated Land Group (ILG). The Land Registration (Amendment) Act of 2009 introduced this process, bypassing the complexities of acquisition under the Land Act of 1996.

This legislative change coincided with amendments to the Land Groups Incorporation Act, establishing the office of the Director of Customary Land Registration. Empowered with various authorities, this director oversees the process, from summoning individuals and documents to administering affirmations concerning customary land applications.

Here's a step-by-step breakdown of the process involved in registering customary land under the name of an entire clan:

Many wonder about the process of registering customary land under a clan's name, rather than an individual's.Legal advice is scarce for Papua New Guineans on this matter, often leaving them reliant on potentially misleading guidance from Lands Department officials. Registering customary land for an entire clan involves forming an Incorporated Land Group (ILG).

The Land Registration (Amendment) Act 2009, sections 34A to 34Q, outlines the process for registering customary land through an ILG.

Amendments in 2009 to the Land Registration Act aimed to enable direct registration of customary land, bypassing the complex schemes of acquisition under the Land Act 1996.

These changes coincided with amendments to the Land Groups Incorporation Act and established the Director of Customary Land Registration.

  1. The director holds extensive powers, from summoning individuals to administering oaths concerning customary land applications.
  2. An ILG, when incorporated in the Department of Lands and Physical Planning, lists a clan's properties, including various sections of customary land.
  3. To register a listed customary land, representatives of the ILG, like the chairman and executives, must submit an application to the Director of Customary Registration (section 34D).
  4. The application should include a detailed registration plan outlining the land's boundaries, names of involved individuals or groups within the ILG, and documents validating the group's title to the land (section 34D).
  5. Address the application to the Director of Customary Land Registration at the Department of Lands and Physical Planning.
  6. The director verifies the registration plan upon receipt, conducting a land investigation report and land inspections (section 34E).
  7. Land investigations involve confirming membership within the applying customary land group and identifying properties owned.
  8. Inspections, in the presence of Local Level Government and District Administration representatives, verify boundaries alongside neighboring clans.
  9. The registration plan is checked against investigations, allowing amendments if needed.
  10. Upon verification, the director publishes the plan in newspapers (section 34G), specifying land details, ownership, and boundaries.
  11. Copies of the Land Registration Plan go to the Surveyor General's office and are published, inviting objections and specifying objection procedures (section 34G).
  12. The publication allows a 90-day window for objections related to land interests or boundary encroachments.
  13. Objections, specifying grounds and affected land parcels, must be submitted within the publication's provided time frame (section 34G).
  14. Objectors must detail the basis for objection, highlighting customary ownership interests or other concerns.
  15. The director, under section 34J, finalizes the registration plan post-publication and objection period, considering objections and ensuring a legitimate customary title.
  16. The finalized plan is sent to the regional surveyors’ office, and the director considers objections and the land's customary title (section 34J).
  17. In case of objections on ownership or customary matters, the director refers these to the Local Land Court and relevant authorities for resolution.
  18. Upon resolution of objections or when no objections remain, the final registration plan is settled.
  19. Upon payment of a prescribed fee, the ILG is registered as the landowner by the Registrar of Titles.
  20. A certificate of title is issued to the ILG, signifying the land's registration and ownership.
  21. Land registration alters the land's status from customary to registered ownership, though customary practices like inheritance rights remain applicable among members.
  22. Subsequent transfers, subdivisions, or sales post-registration require approval from the Minister for Lands and Physical Planning (section 128).

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