Changes to lodgement of land title dealings in the Northern Territory begins process to introduce electronic settlements

14 February 2024

What is changing?

From 1 March 2024 there will be significant changes to the conveyancing process and land titles lodgements in the Northern Territory.

Lawyers and conveyancers will be required to:

  1. Take reasonable steps to verify the identity of their clients;
  2. Have their clients complete a client authorisation form;
  3. Lodge a client authorisation declaration with any land titles dealings (such as transfers of land) at the land titles office.

Verification of identity

The requirement to take reasonable steps to verify the identity of a client will be deemed to be done if the verification is completed in accordance with the VOI Standard. The VOI Standard is essentially a face to face verification together with original documents (such as a passport and drivers license).

The VOI Standard can be completed in person by a lawyer or conveyancer or by using an approved identity agent such as Australia Post or by using a digital VOI Standard system such as Rundl ID. There is usually a small cost to the client for using any of these methods.

This requirement aligns with the requirements in other jurisdictions in Australia and is required for electronic settlements.

Client authorisation form

This form must be completed by the lawyer or conveyancer and then signed by the client and retained on file. This form can be signed electronically by the client and authorises the lawyer or conveyancer to act for the client in one or more conveyancing transactions and to sign conveyancing documents on behalf of the client (such as the transfer of land).

This means that transfers of land in the Northern Territory no longer need to be sent to property buyers and sellers to be wet signed making the process much easier for all involved.

This requirement generally aligns with the requirements in other jurisdictions in Australia and is required for electronic settlements but the prescribed form in the Northern Territory differs to the form in other jurisdictions.

Client authorisation – declaration

This declaration must be lodged with a land titles dealing and is completed by the lawyer or conveyancer to certify that they have taken reasonable steps to ensure that a client authorisation form has been completed and retained on file.

Why are the changes happening?

These changes are required to transition towards electronic settlements of conveyancing transactions. Electronic settlements were introduced in some Australian states nearly 10 years ago and have since been mandated in most jurisdictions in Australia. Electronic settlements are completed through an electronic lodgement network operator (ELNO) such as PEXA and Sympli and reduce the delays and errors traditionally associated with paper settlements and lodgements.

What do these changes mean for lawlab?

The lawlab team in Darwin is supported by a national team of lawyers and conveyancers who operate in every jurisdiction in Australia so we’re ready for these Northern Territory changes which align with other jurisdictions.

These changes will make the conveyancing process even easier for our Northern Territory buyers and sellers – everything can be done digitally if clients chose to do so! The verification of identity through Rundl ID can be done using a smartphone and the client authorisation can be signed electronically. If clients prefer to see us in person then we can arrange for the verification of identity to be completed and client authorisation forms to be signed in our Parap office.

The process to electronic settlements in the Northern Territory

The changes identified above are a result of the Land Legislation Amendment Act 2023 and are just some of the first steps in the process to the transition to electronic settlements in the Northern Territory. There is still a lot of work to be done before electronic settlements are live in the Northern Territory and they are at least 2 years away but more likely longer. In the meantime lawlab will continue providing its clients with a stress free conveyancing experience whilst dealing with the paper lodgement requirements in the background.

Disclaimer This information is general in nature only and does not constitute legal advice. Lawlab accepts no liability for the content of this information. You should obtain legal advice specific to your individual circumstances. Lawlab’s liability is limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.
Alexander Popovic
Alexander Popovic

Meet Alexander, a legal professional with a diverse background in property and planning, criminal, and family law. Graduating with a Bachelor of Law from Sydney, Alexander has brought his wide-ranging expertise to the legal landscape of the Northern Territory. Outside the legal realm, his adventurous spirit takes him on journeys through the Northern Territory. A passionate traveler and avid hiker, Alexander spends a great deal of his time exploring the landscapes of the region.

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