There has already been some changes to Conveyancing for real property and there is more set to come with the approaching introduction of electronic conveyancing (“E-Conveyancing”) in South Australia.

Note: The Real Property (Electronic Conveyancing) Amendment Bill 2016 that supports the introduction of Electronic conveyancing will take effect from Monday 4th of July.

The purpose of this BLOG is to provide an overview of the recent reforms, then in an upcoming BLOG we shall provide an overview of the anticipated reforms before discussing the changes that will arise due to the introduction of Electronic Conveyancing.

Reform #1: Verification of Identity “VOI”

The first of the major reforms commenced on 1 July 2013 which was the introduction of the Registrar-General’s Verification of Identity policy (“VOI”). The VOI was introduced to reduce the risk of land title fraud and other improper land title dealings through identity fraud in South Australia.

Essentially if you are a party to a document in a transaction involving land the VOI requires you to attend a face-to-face interview and produce supporting documents that verify your identity. The VOI interview must be conducted by a Verifier (or their agent or by an authorised person if a self-represented party).

A party is:

  • Each person who has to sign the document in the land transaction;
  • Each director and/or secretary who signs on behalf of an incorporated body;
  • Each person who signs under a power of attorney;
  • Persons to whom duplicate or paper certificates of title are provided:

A Verifier for the purposes of conducting the VOI interview include:

  • Legal Practitioners
  • Registered Conveyancers
  • Legal Firms (‘conveyancer’)

Identity Agents may be engaged by a Verifier to undertake the VOI on their behalf. Identity Agents must be of good repute, competent and have complying levels of insurance (such as Australia Post, Zip ID and ID Secure) or be other legal practitioners or registered conveyancers or an Authorised Deposit-Taking Institute “ADI” (most major banks are ADI’s) or where conducted for a mortgagee only, then a mortgage broker.

In certain circumstances the following persons may be authorised by a Verifier to assist in the verification of identity process but they are not able to fulfil the role of Verifier in accordance with the VOI:

  • Justice of the Peace
  • Proclaimed Police Officer
  • Notary Public
  • Australian Consular Officers
  • Australian Diplomatic Officer

Note: For self represented parties the following are authorised persons for the purposes of verification of identity: Justice of the Peace, Proclaimed Police Officer, Legal Practitioner, Registered Conveyancer or Notary Public.
Supporting documents are divided into categories and the person being identified must produce the highest category of documents possible and all the documents in that particular category.

A list of the required documents by category is provided in detail in the Registrar General’s Verification of Identity – Identification Checklist attached at the bottom of the page. If you cannot produce a passport, driver’s licence or some form of photographic proof of age card then the VOI process is more complicated.

The authorised person conducting the interview must take reasonable steps to verify the person’s identity and is required to take copies of the documents produced. In some cases further steps or enquiries are required to be made. Further steps may include the authorised person requesting additional supporting documents be produced, asking you or a third party questions, engaging a translator or taking a photograph of you for their records. Copies of the documents and any supporting notes or photographs are required to be kept for at least 7 years.

There is usually a fee charged by the authorised person to conduct the VOI interview.

Reform #2: Priority Notices

Priority Notices were introduced on 27 April 2015 along with the implementation of the South Australian Integrated Land Information System (“SAILIS”).

A Priority Notice is a notice that is lodged with the Lands Titles Office (LTO) against a Certificate of Title or Crown Lease and is visible to anyone who conducts a check search or searches the LTO Register.

A Priority Notice effectively puts on notice anyone who intends to deal with that Certificate of Title or Crown Lease that there is a pending transaction that will affect that land. It also preserves and protects the priority of the dealings listed in the notice ahead of any other subsequent dealings with the land for as long as it is in place.

A Priority Notice can be lodged by anyone that intends to lodge dealings in the LTO. The lodgement of a Priority Notice is optional and can be lodged for any dealings. Priority Notices are lodged and managed through SAILIS, and it is important to note that they can only be lodged, extended or withdrawn during normal business hours (Monday to Friday, 9am till 5pm).

Priority Notices are effective for 60 calendar days from the date of lodgement and can be extended once for an additional 30 calendar days and some transactions are exempt (such as caveats).

There are fees payable to both lodge and extend a Priority Notice.

For further information on the reforms that are still pending and an overview of Electronic Conveyancing then keep an eye open for our coming BLOG.

For further information, please contact the author.

This article is posted in Adelaide, South Australia by Tri-meridian Corporate & Commercial Law and is intended to be used as a guide only. It is not, and is not intended to be, advice on any specific matter. We do not accept responsibility for any acts or omissions resulting from reliance upon the content of this article. Before acting on the basis of any material in this article, we recommend that you consult your professional adviser.