13 November 2015

Personhood and registration

'Why Personhood Matters' by Tamara R. Piety in (2015) 30 Constitutional Commentary comments
One of the most controversial aspects of Citizens United is the Court's treatment of corporate personhood. Many members of the public feel that the Court held that corporations are "just like people" and they feel this wrong. Yet many scholars argue that the concern for corporate personhood is misplaced. This article argues that corporate personhood is indeed an important part of the rhetorical strategy to suggest that making distinctions between corporations and persons, or between different types of corporations, is discriminatory and ought to be forbidden on that ground. Moreover, this rhetorical strategy allows the Court to elide more substantive justifications for the extension of fundamental rights to ordinary business corporations. The justifications that have been offered--corporate rights are merely a "pass through" to recognize the rights of the people who make up the corporation or corporate speech is protected for its value to the public -- are demonstrably inadequate. I argue that focusing on personhood suggests that not all corporations are equally good candidates to receive fundamental rights protection and because words have a powerful influence on our thinking, the personhood metaphor lends superficial credence to the notion that distinctions between types of corporate speakers is somehow invidious or that distinctions between commercial and non-commercial speech are discriminatory. Because this argument casts a constitutional shadow on a great deal of our regulatory law it seems worth exposing its weak foundation.
'From Registration of Deeds to Registration of Title: A History of Land Registration in Scotland' by Kenneth Reid in George Gretton and Kenneth  Reid (eds) Land Registration' (Avizandum, 2016 ) comments
 The origins of land registration in Scotland lie in a series of statutes of the sixteenth century. A later Act of 1617, still in force today, set up a national system of deeds registration. There was a choice between registration in a local register or in a central register in Edinburgh (the General Register of Sasines); and registration was constitutive of the real rights which the deeds sought to create. From the beginning the registers were open to the public. These early developments were a source of national pride. Towards the end of the seventeenth century, for example, Sir George Mackenzie commented that ‘Scotland hath above all other Nations, by a serious and long experience, obviated most happily all frauds, by their publick Registers’. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, the pioneer country seemed in danger of being left behind. Beginning in South Australia in 1858, the ‘Torrens’ system of registration of title spread throughout the Australian colonies and then to many other parts of the British Empire. And in England, too, which had no national land register until the nineteenth century, the first hesitant steps were being taken for the introduction of registration of title. In the light of these developments, a Royal Commission was appointed in Scotland in 1906 to consider a switch from registration of deeds to registration of title but its members were unable to reach agreement. It was left to a second government committee, chaired by Lord Reid and reporting in 1963, to recommend the introduction of registration of title. The clinching argument was an expected reduction in transaction costs, and hence the prospect of cheaper conveyancing. Legislation to implement the Reid Committee’s recommendations was eventually passed in 1979. This paper explores the evolution of land registration in Scotland, analyses the key legal developments, and offers an evaluation of the move from registration of deeds to registration of title.