Property Notice - Changes to witnessing requirements for Land Title Registry Documents

      By Jessica Douglas 

      If you are a registered Justice of the Peace, Commissioner for Declarations or Solicitor working with Title Registry documents, then you should be aware of the changes to the witnessing requirements which come into effect on 30th September 2019.

      The Department of Natural Recourses, Mines and Energy (Land Title Office) have released important changes to the requirements for witnessing relevant land title documents, such as transfers and mortgages. A guide to the changes to the witnessing requirements can be found in the new Part 61 of the Land Title Practice Manual (LTPM), specifically section 61-2300 which outlines the obligations of witnesses. Whilst, only a draft copy has been released you can find a link to the relevant Part 61 of the LTPM here. 

      It is likely that witnessing officers are already undertaking adequate steps to verify the identity of the individual signing a document before them. However, from 30 September 2019 it is now a legal requirement to undertake a series of steps to confirm the true identity of the individual and keep written records of the steps undertaking and the documents sighted.


      We have identified the following important factors contacted in the draft Part 61 of the LTPM which deal with the obligations of a witness:-

      1. A witness must take reasonable steps to verify the identity of an individual executing a document, including following certain practices such as using the Verification of Identity Standard to verify the identity of the individual as outlined in 61-2700 of the LTPM.
      2. A witness has an obligation to take reasonable steps to ensure that the individual is the person entitled to sign the instrument or document. The witness must confirm the true legal identity of the individual and also ensure that the individual in the registered proprietor of an interest or about to become the registered proprietor of the relevant interest in land. Evidence that may assist is keeping records of a current title search, a current local government rates notice, loan documentation for the property or a contract of sale for the property.
      3. A witness has an obligation to retain either of the following for 7 years after they witness the signing of the document:-
        1. A written record of the steps taken by the witness to verify the identity and ensure that the individual is the person entitle to sign the document; or
        2. Originals or copies of the document and other evidence obtained by the witness to verify the identity.

      If you opt to retain a written record the record should include as a minimum:-

      1. The full name of the individual;
      2. The date the witnessing occurred; and
      3. A description of the steps taken by the witness to verify the identity.
      4. A witness must not be a party to the transaction and must have the individual execute the form in their presence. Only original signed documents are accepted with the title registry.

      As a witnessing officer, you should be aware of these changes and your responsibility in respect to the correct procedure and record keeping.


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