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Edition 20 // May 2015 
VOI comes into effect in Victoria in July

Preparation for the move to electronic conveyancing has enabled state-based land title registries to bring about best practise modernisation to land dealings generally. One such change has been the implementation of a new verification of identity (VOI) standard for electronic settlements. 
 
This more robust process is critical to ensuring the safety of electronic dealings and to safeguard against fraud for paper-based dealings.
 
While SA and WA have already gone down the verification path, the Registrar of Titles in Victoria will be introducing requirements for formal identity verification for all paper instruments lodged on or after 1 July 2015.
These requirements will mean that conveyancers, legal practitioners and financial institutions must take ‘reasonable steps’ to verify the identity of each client.
 
According to CEO Australian Institute Of Conveyancers (Vic), Jill Ludwell, a conveyancer or legal practitioner cannot use the VOI undertaken by their client’s financial institution; they must do an independent VOI check. “While there has always been a general obligation to identify clients, this has now been formalised in legislation.”
 
She says while the Registrar will publish a ‘safe harbour’ standard, practitioners will be free to develop their own procedures to meet the new requirement.
 
Some of the original documents clients will be required to produce for verification purposes include an Australian passport, driver’s licence, change of name or marriage certificate, if appropriate, a Medicare or Centrelink card, etc.
 
Ms Ludwell says for practitioners to comply with the Registrar of Titles VOI requirements, they must:
 
·         Conduct their own face to face verification
·         Appoint an agent to undertake face to face verification. In this instance, in-person interviews must be undertaken, documents scanned, photos taken and all documents stored on-line for easy access by practitioners.
 
Where agents are used, currently there are three approved agents: Australia Post, IDSecure and ZipID.
 
Ms Ludwell says each agent has a unique method of undertaking the VOI process which needs to be explained to the clients so that they can make a decision as to which agent suits their circumstances. The practitioner then facilitates the connection between the client and their provider of choice and payment is made by the client direct to the agent.
 
Once the agent has completed the VOI, the practitioner will receive a report made up of copies of the documents, photo, etc.
 
Practitioners are required to retain supporting evidence and documentation for seven years, applicable from the date of lodgement at Land Registry.
 
The VOI is valid for a particular client for two years from the time it is completed.
 
Ms Ludwell says the Australian Institute of Conveyancers (Victorian Division) (AIC VIC) has been pro-active in ensuring its members are educated in this new procedure. “We have held a number of seminars as well as more in-depth workshops. We have also distributed materials advising members of the changes, urging them to start undertaking VOIs immediately. Should the documentation of clients they are acting on behalf of right now, be ‘lodged’ after 1 July 2015, identities will have been checked as per the legislation.” 
She says non-members are welcome to attend AIC VIC seminars and workshops and are directed to their website: www.aicvic.com.au.
 
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