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PLEASE NOTE: This article was published on the date listed below and may now contain information that has since been updated or changed. We have retained this article as it may still contain helpful comments. However, we advise you to make an appointment to see us for the most up to date information on this topic.

June 2003

E-Dealings

The New Land Titles System

To keep up with the rapid electronic changes to a Land Titles system that has been with us for over 100 years property lawyers are reviewing their conveyancing practices and moving forward to the new electronic era - New Zealand is entering into paperless conveyancing society.

To keep up with the rapid electronic changes to a Land Titles system that has been with us for over 100 years property lawyers are reviewing their conveyancing practices and moving forward to the new electronic era - New Zealand is entering into paperless conveyancing society.

A Dinosaur?

The current “manual” system of registration through the Land Titles Office is being phased out. Typically documents are signed by the client, certified “correct” for the purposes of the Land Transfer Act by a solicitor (a mechanism that is intended to indicate that the documents are bona fide) and then lodged at the LTO for registration. This process can often take weeks depending on the number of dealings pending. It is by its nature old-fashioned, time consuming and cumbersome.

Electronic Register

Two important pieces of legislation: the Land Transfer Regulations 2002 and the Land Transfer (Computer Registers and Electronic Lodgement) Amendment Act 2002 have given legal effect to the electronic registration of instruments with the emphasis on simplified documentation. Land Information New Zealand has established an electronic Register of all titles and related memorials such as mortgages, easements, transfers, land covenants, encumbrances and plans. The old system of paper titles is now obsolete. A “fresh” title is issued each time there is a change of proprietor and is available online.

New Broom

With the advent of the paperless conveyancing society the idea is that when the electronic register is fully in place a solicitor will be able to prepare and lodge routine transactions electronically from his or her desk. Some conveyancers in Christchurch have been the initial guinea pigs and it is understood that the scheme is now proceeding smoothly. Under the new electronic registration, a solicitor will be given a “digital certificate” which cannot be delegated to someone else. This will enable him or her to log onto the electronic register and sign documents then register accordingly.

Checks and Balances

Various safety mechanisms and monitoring systems have been put in place by LINZ to ensure there is security and solicitors themselves will have to put in place systems such as providing a means of identifying a property client (see our front page editorial in that regard) and obtaining a written authority to act in certain circumstances. While the electronic dealings will perhaps make life seem simpler for the parties there will be an added responsibility on solicitors. The certifications solicitors will be required to make under the electronic system will be more significant than the “signing correct” procedure as at present. The safety net of Land Titles Office staff checking documentation will go. 
We intend to progressively implement this new system over the next year or so. Protecting our clients in this process is our first and paramount objective.