Understanding the Law
June 16, 2006
Correcting Documents

The Register Office otherwise known as the Registry which is housed in the Court house building is the repository for special documents that may be required from time to time. These include birth, marriage and death certificates and deed polls. It is also the Land Registry as all original land documents are deposited there upon registration. These include mortgages, conveyance by sale, deed of gifts and deed of assent. All deeds are bounded in large volumes and kept in the vault for protection. {{more}}The documents are recorded in the order in which they were registered during a particular year. Hence the first document registered for this year bears the identification number of 1 of 2006 and the last would be any number depending on the number of documents registered for the year.

The law provides for a mistake to be corrected. Hence if the amount of land is incorrectly stated, the owner of the lands could apply to the court for rectification of the document under Registration of Documents Act. After the order is made by the court, the Registrar will effect the correction in her own handwriting on the original document. The importance of correct information on documents cannot be over emphasized.

Correction of errors on birth, marriage and death certificates is done by way of application to the Registrar and not to the Court as is the case with deeds. The application is done by way of affidavit evidence. The certificate that contains the error is exhibited and any other relevant material. If granted, the corrected version is given on any subsequent certificate.

One of the most expensive adjustments is the late registration of marriage. I always feel that the marriage officer should be called upon to pay for the application since the duty to register the marriage lies with him/her. It is done by returning the duplicate marriage certificate to the Register Office. If it is not done, the interested party must apply to the court for the registration after two notices have been posted in the Government Gazette.

It is only quite recently that the hospital has been forwarding birth information to the Register Office. The actual reporting of information was dependent on the parents of the child. This source was not always reliable with the effect that birth information was not reported or was given late.

Another problem has been inherited because of the practice of registering a birth without the names of the child. Because the information was reported without the child’s name, the applicant must know the name of the mother and the date of birth of the child in order to extract a birth certificate. This is a problem for grandchildren who are trying to build their family tree because no one might remember the name of the grand or great grand mother.

I still feel that the name of the child must be given at the hospital to be submitted to the Register office because some parents fail to register the names of the child within the time stipulated by law. It is possible for the expectant mother to know the sex of her baby before birth and this makes it easier for the name to be given at the hospital at the time of birth. There are those mothers who would already be calling the baby by name while it is still in the womb. If one does not want to do a scan then the parents should have both male and female names ready at the birth of the child to be submitted at the hospital. Correction would not be necessary if care is taken to post the correct information.

• Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
E-mail address is: exploringthelaw@yahoo.com