Land ownership through PA not recognised under Syariah law

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LAND ownership through power of attorney (PA) is not recognised under Syariah law as there is no exchange of names on the land title between the owner and the buyer, said a Syariah High Court Judge yesterday.

Speaking from the point of view of the Islamic jurisprudence, Dato Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Metussin Hj Baki said that PA – a legal document which gives one person the power to act for another – is not regarded as allowing a buyer to fully own property due to lack of Aqd (an Arabic legal term referring to a binding contract or determination).

“As long as the names on the land title is not changed, the land does not belong to the buyer,” said Dato Ustaz Hj Metussin.

The Syariah High Court Judge was responding to a query by Acting Land Commissioner Datin Hjh Zainon Abang Hj Omarzuki during a briefing on land administration and management in the perspective of Islam to commemorate 55 years of the establishment of the Land Department.

Datin Hjh Zainon asked whether land ownership using PA is considered as property owned by the original owner or property owned by the buyer who used PA.

“From my point of view, we need to understand the process. The government has voided the PA… This is a general problem. However, the buyer who owned the property through PA does not fully own the land. It’s not complete. There should be changes in the names on the land grant (land title),” said the Syariah High Court Judge.

“For example, if I offer you a car and said, ‘Please take my car’, and you responded ‘Yes’. But I haven’t given you the car key. This shows that the transfer of property is not complete,” he added.

The government of Brunei amended the Land Code that effectively voided land ownership purchased through PA in 2012.

According to a previous report, Law Society President Mohamad Rozaiman DSLJ Abdul Rahman expressed concerns over the issues arising on ownership and transfer of land through PA.

He said the amendment of the Land Code has banned non-Bruneians from purchasing or transferring land which caused an uproar among the legal community in 2012 as the retroactive policy ignored any accepted standards of the rule of law.

The president said that all 47,000 deeds issued through PA would be converted to 60-year leases.

Upon expiry, the property must be handed over to the government.

The Brunei Times