New Drastic Land Ordinance in Palestine: Disputes to Be Decided Outside Courts: Vast Administrative
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New Drastic Land Ordinance in Palestine: Disputes to Be Decided Outside Courts: Vast Administrative

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A drastic Ordinance enabling District Commissioners to make orders regarding the possession of land concerning which a dispute exists which is likely to cause a breach of the peace, is published in the Official Gazette.

The District Commissioners are empowered by this Land Disputes Ordinance to summon the parties concerned to attend before him and to put in written statements their respective claims, and after reading these statements they are to examine the parties, take evidence and, if possible, decide who was in actual possession of the land at the time of the dispute.

If it appears to the District Commissioner that in the two months preceding the dispute any party has been forcibly dispossessed, he may treat the party so dispossessed as if he had been in possession at such date. In such a case the party shall be entitled to possession until evicted in due course of law.

Proceedings under this Ordinance will be deemed to be proceedings before a Magistrate as regards taking evidence on oath, service of orders, summonses and other documents, enforcement of orders and the like but no appeal will lie against any order by the District Commissioner under this Ordinance.

An order made under this Ordinance will prevent the alienation of the land which is the subject of dispute and a copy of the order will be served on the Registrar of Lands.

If the District Commissioner decides that none of the parties was in actual possession of the land in dispute or is unable to satisfy himself which of them was in actual possession, he may order its attachment until a competent Court has determined the rights of the parties, but he may withdraw the attachment at any time if he is satisfied that there is no longer any likelihood of a breach of the peace.

The Ordinance also deals with the time-old custom of using land or water for grazing, cutting wood or reeds, watering animals, irrigation, fishing or other like purpose and empowers the District Commissioner to make an order prohibiting any interference with the exercise of such practice until a competent Court has decided whether a right to such uses exists.

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