You may have wondered why lately there is a greater emphasis on providing identification documents compared to the prior years. This is due to the continuing evolution of the verification requirements. Also, the recent disciplinary decision of Youssef v NSW Legal Services Commissioner  NSWCATOD 85 serves as a cautionary tale to all property and strata participants regarding the importance of the matter when dealing with land transactions. They can involve:
- Transfers of land;
- Change of by-laws;
- Plans of subdivision;
- Management statements and development contracts (including their amendments);
- Easements, property developments and redevelopments; and
- Basically anything that changes a notification on the title of a property or common property.
We have set out briefly below on what is involved so you can better understand why your lawyer or bank manager may ask you for the various documents next time you have a transaction. And of course, if you have a matter with us, we will let you know:
- Verification of Identity Standard – This is the industry best practice. It requires:
- A face-to-face in-person interview with the person (usually the transacting party);
- At the interview, the person must produce the original documents as specified in ONE of the categories in the VOI Table. A shortform of this can be accessed by clicking here;
- The person must attempt to produce the original documents in order of priority of the Categories. Ie, start from Category 1 and work through to Category 6 (if needed). We must be reasonably satisfied that a prior Category cannot be met in full before proceeding to a subsequent Category. We must also sight these original documents at the interview and retain a copy on file;
- Where a document contains a photograph, we will check that the photograph matches the person;
- The documents must be current, except for an expired Australian Passport which must not be cancelled and was current within the last two years;
- In the unlikely event that Categories 1 to 4 cannot be met, Category 5(a) may be used. And if that cannot be used, then Category 5(b). Please contact us if you need these;’
- For body corporates – we will need to:
- confirm the existence and identity by conducting a search of the ASIC’s records (or other regulatory body that governs its registration – for example, a common property title search for an owners corporation);
- take reasonable steps to establish who is authorised to sign or witness the affixing of the seal on behalf of the body corporate; and
- verify the identity of the individual/s signing or witnessing the affixing of the seal on behalf of the body corporate in accordance with the Verification of Identity Standard (above).
- For attorneys – we will confirm from the registered Power of Attorney the details of the Attorney and the Donor and the land transaction is authorised. Also, we will follow the same procedures for the body corporates if applicable.
- Further checks – we may need to do this if there is an indication of a problem.
- Contact details – we will need your contact details and your secured email address.
- Currency of the VOI interview – Once done, it is good for 2 years. However, we will still need to take reasonable steps to ensure that we are dealing with the same person.
- Evidence keeping – We will need to keep evidence of the above for 7 years in case there is an audit.
- Reasonable steps – We may instead take “reasonable steps” to verify the person’s identity. This can involve the following:
- New clients with urgent matters – Please contact us;
- New clients with non-urgent matters – The Australia Post’s VOI services are well tested and they are nation wide. See: https://auspost.com.au/id-and-document-services/identity-checks-for-property-transfers;
- Existing client (without a current VOI standard check done) – We can possibly try:
- Video interview and recording;
- The Australia Post’s VOI process;
- Other established VOI services/agents; and
- A combination of email, post, fax and/or call at the client’s contact details as registered on a reputable register or company’s website, say for instance, records of ASIC (for corporations, directors, shareholders and registered liquidators), AFSA (for trustee’s in bankruptcies), website for well-known firms (say, strata managing and real estate agencies) etc; and
- Face to face meeting – We are more than happy to do this if it suits – just bring all your relevant identification!
That’s all for now, about the VOI requirements!
Please contact our Property/Strata law team at Matthews Folbigg Lawyers on 9635 7966 if you would like advice or assistance.
DISCLAIMER: This article is provided to readers for their general information and on a complimentary basis. It contains a brief summary only and should not be relied upon or used as a definitive or complete statement of the relevant law. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.