There are changes happening in 2019 that will directly impact you: good, bad & indifferent!

You don’t need to be told that the digital evolution is changing the way business is conducted, and therefore the practice of law.

You do need to be told that the digital evolution is also changing the practice of international cyber-crime – and that people like you are their target.

How does this impact you?  Many processes and systems are changing in the way that we will communicate with each other.

I’m not going to tell you here what changes we are making – as criminals are monitoring websites, social media platforms, emails etc!

What I will explain today are the changes being made by government agencies that will impact how you and I engage with each other in the future!

The 2019 Changes

1.  The end of Title Deeds

On 1 October 2019, Certificates of Title cease to be a legal document.  These documents, which have been securely locked away in safes and vaults around the country for the last century, will cease to be of any value to you or anyone else!   Whilst legally significant, this change won’t impact many people as these documents have been optional for many years.

Would you like to have a Title Deed on display at home?  

If you own a property with no mortgage, you might like a framed title deed hanging on your wall.   If you do, you can apply for a Certificate of Title by no later than mid to late September.  On 1 October 2019, the Certificate of Title ceases to be a legal document, and you can safely put the document on display.

2. Verifying your Identity

From 1 October 2019, the rules for verifying your identity are being strengthened.  These changes apply when you are signing any titles office document regarding any property in Queensland – land, houses, apartments, commercial and industrial property etc.

The witness (Lawyer, Justice of the Peace or Commissioner for Declarations) must examine & copy your ID documents (Driver Licence & Passport).  The witness must also establish that you are entitled to sign the document – i.e. an owner must prove they own the property.

The witness has to retain this evidence for 7 years.  The Titles Office can direct the witness to produce this evidence at any time during that 7 year period. Significant penalties can be imposed if the Witness does not comply!

What does this mean for you?

You won’t be able to quickly sign a land titles document by showing your ID documents, signing the document, and the witness signing.  The witness will need to create a file, record your details in their database, and retain a copy of your ID documents and the document witnessed – for SEVEN YEARS.

There are simple solutions!

When you need to sign a Client Authorisation form (for E-Settlements) or a Land Titles document, you can do this at either (1) an authorised Australia Post Office, or (2) a VOI agent can meet you at your work or home.

3. Cyber-Crime

Whilst we have not been involved in any cyber-crime incidents, we are aware that hi-tech criminals have stolen money from property buyers and sellers.  The process starts when the criminals infiltrate the email system of someone, or one of the businesses involved in the transaction – such as a law firm or real estate agent.

The criminals then wait and monitor the communication.  When the time is right, they make their move by intercepting emails passing between the people involved in the transaction.  The criminal changes the content of the email by removing the correct bank account details and inserting their own account details.

How can this succeed? 

The fraudulent email received looks identical to the legitimate emails previously received.

If you receive an email from “us” informing you that we have changed our bank account details (for any reason) – DON’T BELIEVE IT.  We receive dozens of scam emails every day.  The situation is now so extreme that we can no longer rely upon emails received from “you” without following up to verify its authenticity.

The good news!

This issue should be eliminated from October 2019 with the commencement of Electronic Settlements.   As part of this process, you won’t be sending us any emails with your bank account details.  You will complete these details on a secure online portal.  More details to follow in September.

4. Electronic Settlements

E-Settlements for property sales and purchases will commence in October 2019.  Despite becoming a subscriber to the Electronic Settlements system in mid-2015, the system has not been embraced in Queensland until recent months.

The impact upon you is minimal, with most of the disruption affecting how lawyers engage with other lawyers, the banks and the various state government departments.

What does change is that when selling a property, the property owner will no longer sign the Transfer of ownership form – I will do this on the owner’s behalf !!  When you consider the significance of someone other than an owner signing the transfer document, the attention to detail involved with the Verification of Identity process is essential.


Disclaimer: The above is to be considered as general education. This is not advice and it is not to be acted upon without advice from a qualified professional who understands your personal circumstances.

Copyright © 2019 Wockner Lawyers. All Rights Reserved. Contact Wockner Lawyers – [email protected]. This article may not be used without the prior written consent from the author. See below for more details…

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