Three Wise Men And Their Thoughts On The Strata Condition

Messer’s Rath, Grimes and Moore were smart men. They wrote the first strata title laws in Australia. Some claim these were the first strata laws in the world. Belgium has a claim to this too but whatever the truth, thinking in terms of this form of living over fifty years ago was pretty clever. Fifty years on, their work is up for review, again.

As we approach this round of law reform in NSW, we are using an open forum website for consulting with the public. Skim the website and there are no surprises. It is the usual grab bag of vested interests that you get when you do a daft thing like asking the public how they want to be regulated.

Reading the list of legislative wishes of the interested and the disaffected caused me to wonder what Rath, Grimes and Moore would do, so I went to their slim volume published in 1962 ‘Strata Titles: A handbook Comprising Annotations and Practice Notes on The Conveyancing (Strata Titles) Act 1961 with regulations and Forms’. The title is nearly as long as the entire law that incidentally ran only to an elegant 29 clauses.

Reflecting on their introduction, they commented on the challenges they faced. They explain that their problems fall into two almost self-contained categories. There was the problem of providing conclusive titles for various parts of a building. They thought this comparatively easy, and appeared to have been achieved by the Act.

Then, they said, was the problem of formulating a code for living in close community. That they wrote, was harder by far. They concluded; ‘It is beyond human power (even legislative power) to make neighbours live happily ever after.’ Clever men, indeed.

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