The Natural Resources and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 (Qld) introduced additional requirements for witnessing documents including:
Whilst the changes came into effect from 30 September 2019, there still seems to be uncertainty about the new requirements.
A witness must now verify the identity of a signatory to a land titles form. The witness can satisfy this new requirement by complying with these steps:
If a witness is unable to complete these steps, they will need to take further steps to verify the signatory’s identity such as obtaining more identity documents and/or supporting evidence or using electronic verification services.
Additional information is available in Part 61 – Witnessing and Execution of Instruments or Documents of the Land Title Practice Manual (Queensland).
Verifying entitlement to sign
A witness must also consider a signatory’s entitlement to sign the relevant land titles form. A signatory can demonstrate their entitlement by providing the witness with evidence such as a current rates notice, valuation notice or title search (in the case of an outgoing party or mortgagor) or a contract of sale, loan document or a letter from a solicitor confirming the signatory’s entitlement to sign (in the case of an incoming party or mortgagee).
Where the signatory is signing under a Power of Attorney, the witness must sight the registered Power of Attorney (or similar evidence if the signatory is signing in another capacity such as under a delegation). The witness should also:
Retaining written records
A witness is required to retain records for at least 7 years, with such records to include (at a minimum) the following:
Powers of the Registrar
The Registrar may, before or after a document is registered, ask a witness to confirm the steps taken or to produce the written record or the documents retained by the witness in the course of identifying the signatory and their entitlement to sign the document. Failure to do so without reasonable excuse can incur a civil penalty.
Witnesses should remember to thoroughly check the identity of a signatory by viewing 100 points of identification and comparing the photograph and signature on identification documents to the signatory. Witnesses should also check the signatory’s authority to sign the relevant land titles form and should expect that the signatory will provide written evidence of their authority such as a title search or a contract of sale.
Witnesses should take copies of all identification documentation and other evidence provided by the signatory and retain those records for 7 years. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in civil penalties or disciplinary action.
Kimberley Arden, Partner
Tahlia O’Connor, Associate