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Unofficial Opinion 94-13

Unofficial Opinion 94-13

September 19, 1994
To: 

Clerk
Superior Court of Towns County

Re: 

A clerk of superior court may not file and record maps or plats relating to the real estate in his county which do not meet the requirements of O.C.G.A. § 15-6-67, as amended by Georgia Laws 1994, p. 1096.

Your recent letter asked whether a clerk of the superior court may record maps or plats prepared prior to July 1, 1994, but submitted for filing after July 1, where the maps or plats do not meet the requirements of O.C.G.A. § 15-6-67, as amended by Georgia Laws 1994, p. 1096. More particularly, your question concerns the filing of maps and plats not meeting the requirements of O.C.G.A. § 15-6-67(b)(2)(E), which was added by Georgia Laws 1994, p. 1096, Section 1, and which states:

All reproductions of original maps or plats shall bear the original signature, in black ink, of the registrant placed across the registration seal in order to be a valid or recordable plat or map.

By law, O.C.G.A. § 1-3-4(a)(1), legislative acts such as Georgia Laws 1994, p. 1096, become effective on July 1 of the calendar year in which such acts are passed by the General Assembly and, as here, approved by the Governor. Once effective, laws of general application affect transactions occurring after the effective date but may not impair obligations of contracts or otherwise affect transactions occurring prior to the effective date. O.C.G.A. § 1-3-5.

As a result of the 1994 amendments to O.C.G.A. § 15-6-67, maps or plats to be filed and recorded in the office of the clerk of the superior court must meet the minimum standards and specifications stated in O.C.G.A. § 15-6-67(b). It is clear from the 1994 amendments to O.C.G.A. § 15-6-67(c) that a clerk of the superior court only has a duty to file and record a map or plat which meets the requirements of O.C.G.A. § 15-6-67(b). This is a new duty imposed on superior court clerks; prior to the 1994 amendments, there was no comparable provision to O.C.G.A. § 15-6-67(c) which imposed a duty upon a clerk of the superior court to file and record maps and plats meeting the requirements of a general law of statewide application. It follows that, while a land surveyor may have, as a result of the 1994 amendments, a right to have a map or plat meeting the requirements of O.C.G.A. § 15-6-67(b) filed by the clerk of the superior court, no right existed prior to July 1, 1994, for a land surveyor to have any particular type of map or plat filed by the clerk of the superior court.

Consequently, it cannot be said that the 1994 amendments to O.C.G.A. § 15-6-67 have any retrospective operation or effect. Rather, these amendments create a duty and a corresponding right where none existed prior to the effective date of these amendments.

It is therefore my unofficial opinion that a clerk of the superior court has no duty to file and record a map or plat which does not meet the requirements of O.C.G.A. § 15-6-67(b), nor does a land surveyor have a right to insist that a map or plat not meeting the requirements of O.C.G.A. § 15-6-67(b) be filed by the clerk of the superior court.

Prepared by:

GEORGE P. SHINGLER
Senior Assistant Attorney General