On 30 September 2015, the Victorian Registrar of Titles published Version 1 of the “Registrar’s Requirements for Paper Conveyancing Transactions” (the “Requirements”).  The Requirements impose new obligations in relation to paper conveyancing transactions, with a view to aligning paper and electronic conveyancing transactions in the future.

A conveyancing transaction is a transaction involving one or more parties where the transaction is registered with Land Victoria, and the purpose of which is:

  1. to create, transfer, dispose of, mortgage, charge, lease or deal with in any other way an estate or interest in land;
  2. to get something registered, noted or recorded in the titles register; or
  3. to get the registration, note or record of something in the titles register changed, withdrawn or removed.

As you can appreciate, the definition is quite broad and examples of applicable conveyancing transactions include:

  • transfers of land;
  • creation and surrender of easements;
  • section 173 agreements pursuant to the Planning and Environment Act 1987; and
  • plans of subdivision pursuant to section 35 of the Subdivision Act 1988.

Not all of the Requirements become operative at the same time.  However, the verification of identity (“VOI”) requirements came into effect on 9 November 2015.  Consequently, VOI requirements now impact on all Victorian conveyancing transactions.

This means that a person (including a company, government department or statutory authority) signing a conveyancing instrument after 9 November 2015 will need their identity verified before the document is signed and lodged with Land Victoria. 

What is required?

Generally, a lawyer, law firm or conveyancer is required to take reasonable steps to verify the identity of their clients, mortgagors and persons to whom certificates of title are provided.  What are considered “reasonable steps” will depend on the circumstances of each case.  However, the lawyer, law firm or conveyancer will be deemed to have taken reasonable steps if they comply with the VOI Standard set out in Schedule 1 of the Requirements.

How is one’s identity verified?

We will contact our relevant clients to explain the processes required.  However, briefly, this involves ascertaining the authority to sign an instrument, followed by a short face-to-face interview with a lawyer and the person(s) signing the conveyancing instrument.  There are numerous categories of acceptable documents to prove one’s identity and the highest category must be adopted in each case.  Generally, this involves providing a driver’s licence and passport (and a marriage certificate if the signee’s current name and the name on the documents differ). 

For interstate clients, if we are unable to conduct the VOI process, this can be undertaken by an agent.  For overseas clients, additional steps must be taken which may include utilising the services of the Australian consular office if they agree to provide this service.

In some instances, further steps must be taken to complete the VOI.

Copies of the identity documents must be retained for 7 years (and will be retained in accordance with Russell Kennedy’s privacy policy) and the VOI lasts for 2 years.

Authority to enter into a conveyancing transaction

Also, from 9 November 2015, a lawyer, law firm or conveyancer must take reasonable steps to verify that the client is a legal person and has the right to enter into the conveyancing transaction.

Requirements not yet in force

The remaining requirements will come into effect based on the following timeline:

1 December 2015

  • Verification of identity for non-represented parties. 

1 March 2016

  • Discharging mortgagees or their representatives must lodge the discharge of mortgage, except where the discharge of mortgage is to be lodged with any transfer of land or mortgage for the same folio(s) of the Register.

1 August 2016

  • Mortgages and discharges of mortgage must be lodged using an electronic lodgement network where the mortgagee is an authorised deposit-taking institution.

3 April 2017

  • Subscribers must comply with the Certification Rules (Schedule 4 to the Requirements);
  • Representatives must sign instruments on behalf of their clients in accordance with client authorisations; and
  • Registration of mortgages by the Registrar pursuant to section 74(1A) of the Transfer of Land Act 1958.

What you need to do

The Registrar is not required to register an instrument unless he/she is satisfied as to the identity of any person by or on behalf of whom the instrument is executed.  Therefore, to ensure that any forthcoming settlements or registration of interests in land etc are not delayed, you need to ensure that your identity is properly verified prior to, or at the same time as, signing the relevant instrument.