Jeremy Cox

12 October 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic still continues to affect the normal business dealings of many lawyers and conveyancers nationwide, the Office of the NSW Registrar General has further updated the Conveyancing Rules- COVID19 Pandemic Amendment.

Published in early October from the Office of the NSW Registrar General, the new rules extend the operation of current temporary changes as a result of the pandemic and social distancing requirements.

Changes to the Conveyancing Rules temporarily allow paper land dealings, plans and Section 88B instruments to be signed electronically. These documents may also be witnessed electronically using an audio-visual link during the COVID-19 restriction, under Division 1 Part 2B of the Electronic Transactions Act 2000.

These temporary changes do not alter any existing requirements for execution and certification, verification of identity or establishing the right to deal.

The new rules which were originally implemented in April 2020, will cease to apply on March 31, 2021. The rules largely surround the option to sign dealings and plans electronically, to assist lawyers and conveyancers to maintain business as usual during these challenging times.

The adjustment covers Division 2, Part 2 of the Electronic Transactions Act 2000 and applies to the execution of:

(a) any instrument that is to be lodged for registration under the Real Property Act 1900;

(b) a certificate referred to in Rule 6.1.2 (a) or (b);

(c) an instrument under section 88B of the Conveyancing Act 1919; and

(d) any other instrument that is to be lodged for registration with a plan.

A person who signs electronically under Rule 12.3 must confirm their identity and their intention to sign the instrument electronically by either:

(a) including a statement on the instrument near or above their electronic signature to the following effect: Electronic signature of me, [insert full name], affixed by me, or at my direction, on [insert date], OR

(b) using a digital signing platform that indicates on the instrument that an electronic signature was applied, and the date and time that this occurred.

A copy of a document signed electronically in accordance with this Schedule may be lodged as an original of that document.

It is important to note that witnessing requirements may be satisfied using an audio-visual link in accordance with Division 2, Part 2B Electronic Transactions Act 2000. Additionally, Rule 12.3 applies to overcome the current prohibition created by clause 6 of the Electronic Transactions Regulation 2017.

If you need more assistance understanding what other measures are in place to help you navigate COVID-19 restrictions, visit the NSW Registrar General COVID-19 update page.

Jeremy Cox

Jeremy Cox

Jeremy Cox is the NSW Registrar General and Executive Director in the NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation. The Office of Registrar General oversees the performance, integrity and security of NSW’s land title system. Jeremy has held previous executive roles in the Federal Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and state Governments' premiers and treasury departments, with an economic policy focus.

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