From 9 November 2015 Victoria joins Western Australia and South Australia in requiring the identity of signatories to all documents lodged at the Titles Office, and for those who are given custody of a certificate of title, to be verified.

The new requirements aim to reduce fraud by placing an obligation on conveyancing professionals to take reasonable steps to verify that a person signing a document is who they say they are and that they have the right to transact with the land.

Reasonable steps will be deemed to have been used if the rules prescribed for using the electronic settlement platform PEXA are followed.  In brief, the rules require each individual, director or attorney to attend a face-to-face meeting with the conveyancing professional with the prescribed identification documents.  The person making this identification will use these documents to establish the person’s identity and establish a record that must be kept for 7 years.  It is expected that the majority of people can produce a passport and drivers licence.  If these documents are not available then additional documents may be acceptable.

This identification process can be undertaken by a conveyancing professional or certain authorised Identity Agents.  Australia Post is an example of an authorised Identity Agent.

The other new requirement is that the conveyancing professional representing you in the transaction must take reasonable steps to verify that its client is a legal person and has the right to enter into the transaction.  There are no deeming provisions to satisfy this requirement but, the conveyancing professional will have to undertake sufficient enquiries to verify the link between the land and the transacting party, and the representative capacity of the party.  This will include examining company searches and trust deeds.

For those parties to a conveyancing transaction who are not represented by a conveyancing professional, the new rules require that such a person must visit an authorised Identity Agent and have that Identity Agent verify their identity before any documents signed by them will be accepted by the Titles Office.  For unpresented persons, the transaction documents will obviously need to be signed at the same time as the verification process.

Where possible, Harwood Andrews will undertake the identification process in house.  If you unable to attend our offices then it will be necessary to make use of an external Identity Agent.  For a fee you can attend their location, or they can come to you to undertake the verification process and provide us with the necessary evidence.  Once your identity has been verified it is valid for 2 years.

If you have any queries or require more detailed advice on the requirements for identification, please contact:

Deborah Mann
Special Counsel
Harwood Andrews
T: 03 5226 8551
E: dmann@harwoodandrews.com.au

Stuart Monotti
Special Counsel
Harwood Andrews
T: 03 5226 8514
E: smonotti@harwoodandrews.com.au

Don Robinson
Principal
Harwood Andrews Ballarat
T: 03 5329 6921
E: drobinson@harwoodandrews.com.au