VOI Legislation requires lawyers and conveyancers to identify their clients by taking reasonable steps under the ARNECC Model Participation Rules.

VOI is required for valid eSignatures, State Stamp Duty Assessments, & Client Authorisation forms to sign on behalf clients in electronic settlements. VOI forms the basis for e-Conveyancing.

Are clients meeting face to face with their legal advisers? 

There’s an increasing trend toward clients being identified without having to be physically present at their practitioner’s premises. The average age of Australians is now 37, meaning your client base is generally more tech savvy. Smartphone usage is increasing and clients expect to be able to complete processes remotely.

Does the VOI legislation cover identifying clients without them having to be physically present?

Yes, according to the ARNECC Model Participation Rules Version 4 – 6.5.2, you must take reasonable steps to verify the identity of your clients, which can include either (a) applying the Verification of Identity Standard or (b) verifying the identity of a person in some other way that constitutes the taking of reasonable steps.  

This means, practitioners can use technology to identify clients remotely and this can constitute taking reasonable steps but if VOI is exploited by a fraudulent client then “taking reasonable steps” can be challenged and audited and a Practitioner would have to make a defence based on each individual set of circumstances and the Practitioners conduct and actions engaged in to identify their Client.

How Does WebVOI assist practitioners with VOI, and provide an extra layer of protection from failing to identify their clients adequately?

The current ID process involves vendor or purchaser clients presenting their passports and drivers licences for identification with legal representatives either in person or uploading these documents remotely.

However, the problem facing the practitioner is knowing whether the ID is valid or if it has been fraudulently created by the client i.e. Has the client generated their own expiry dates, numbers, photos and false addresses and inserted them into their passport and drivers licence?

WebVOI addresses this problem in two innovative ways.

  1. After a client either in-house or remotely uploads an Australian drivers licences and passport – WebVOI uses the government’s Document Verification Service to compare the document details against government record to determine whether the documents are valid.
  2. WebVOI conducts facial recognition by comparing a current photo taken by the client on their smartphone, together with their uploaded identity documents. WebVOI will compare all three client photos on documents for a match or no match result.

How to use WebVOI?

Go to “People” Tab on InfoTrack Platform, click on “WebVOI” select in house, remote, or agent and the program will send email link to begin the process.

Final Word

WebVOI focuses on document validity for passports and drivers licences, and inserts a rebuttal to court action against lawyers and conveyancers failing to identify their clients properly.

So, go for it, this innovative technology is a valuable risk management tool for your practice, test and trial it, I did and it is now part of my Conveyancing Practice.

Practitioners would spend more on coffee and biscuits’ in the morning! Its so worth WebVOI!

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Garth Brown B. Bus JP FAICNSW

Garth Brown B. Bus JP FAICNSW

Legal Practice Expert, Industry Thought Leader, Accountant 20 Years’ experience in the Legal Space Author, Webinar Presenter, Trainer & Industry Adviser Fellow AICNSW & 2015 NSW Conveyancer of the Year. Principal Brown & Brown Conveyancers. To find out more about operating a successful legal or conveyancing practice, read my ebook, "Step by Step Guide to a Successful Conveyancing/ Legal Practice" available at https://www.conveyancers.net.au/guide/

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