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Significant amendments to the Land Title Act are coming into force on November 15, 2019.  Most notably, Part 10.1, which governs electronic filing, is being repealed and replaced to clarify and simplify the legislation.

In summary, the key changes to the legislation are:

  • New terms and revised definitions intended to clarify and simplify terminology:
    • e-filing directions
    • document
    • electronic signature
    • execution copy
    • designate
  • Elimination of unnecessary true copy requirements
  • Elimination of duplicative provisions related to e-filing of applications, instruments and plans

Amendments enable future changes to e-filing processes

Although the new Part 10.1 is significantly different from the current Part 10.1, the amendments were drafted to minimize immediate changes to the current e-filing processes and requirements when the amendments come into force while allowing for more significant changes to be introduced incrementally in the future. The new Part 10.1 will:

  • Provide flexibility to account for future changes in technology and processes,
  • Enable the streamlining of various forms of electronic filing,
  • Retain, clarify and simplify the current electronic filing provisions.

Key Changes

New term: ‘e-filing directions'

The new Part 10.1 establishes the new term ‘e-filing directions’. E-filing directions are directions for all aspects of e-filing as established by the Director. They replace the existing Director’s Requirements made under the current Part 10.1.New term: ‘document’

The current definitions of ‘electronic application’, ‘electronic instrument’, ‘electronic plan’ and ‘electronic plan application’ in Part 10.1 have been removed and replaced with a broad definition of ‘document’. Amendments to the Act eliminate the need for two definitions for these documents (one electronic and one not) and instead address how any document may be submitted electronically. Where necessary, Part 10.1 references specific types of documents (e.g. plan, plan application) without referring to them as ‘electronic’.

Definition of ‘electronic signature’

The definition of ‘electronic signature’ has been removed from the definitions in section 168.1 of Part 10.1. Previously, an electronic signature was defined here as the signature of a subscriber. This definition has been moved to the new Division 6 [Certification of Subscribers] of Part 10.1. Division 6 contains all the existing provisions in Part 10.1 related to the certification of subscribers and the existing definition of electronic signature now only applies to that division.

With this change, the Director now has the authority to establish requirements for electronic signatures in an e-filing direction. This will allow the Director to establish new types of electronic signature in the future.

This amendment will not result in any immediate changes to who may electronically sign an application. When the amendments come into force, e-filing directions will continue the current requirement that an e-filed application be electronically signed by a subscriber as provided in the new Division 6. The directions will identify the existing classes of subscriber (e.g. lawyer, notary, land surveyor, ASR member) and indicate the documents that each class of subscriber may electronically sign.

Elimination of unnecessary true copy requirements

Currently, Part 10.1 requires that a true copy of all e-filed documents be printed and retained by the subscriber who electronically signs the application. However, the purpose of the true copy is to ensure that the statutory execution requirements for an electronic document can be met. Where there are no particular statutory execution requirements for a document, there is no policy need for a true copy to be produced.

In the new Part 10.1, an execution copy is only required for documents and plans that must be executed in a particular manner or witnessed.

New term ‘execution copy’ replaces use of ‘true copy’ in Part 10.1

Amendments to the Act establish the new term ‘execution copy’ in Part 10.1 and amend the definition of ‘true copy’ in section 1 of the Act.  Execution copy replaces the use of ‘true copy’ to refer to the paper copy of an electronic document that must be printed and executed before the document can be e-filed. This provides a unique term for this copy, which is only used in the context of these e-filing requirements.

The definition of true copy in section 1 of the Act has been amended to apply to any electronic document under the act.

New term: ‘designate’

Amendments to the Act establish the new term ‘designate’ in Part 10.1. Designate takes the place of subscriber as the term for the individual responsible for certifying land title documents submitted electronically where certification is required by the Director or by the Administrator under corresponding amendments to the Property Transfer Tax Act.

The new Part 10.1 requires certification by a designate only for the following documents:

  • Documents (other than plans) that are required to be executed in a particular manner or witnessed
  • Land Title Act plans that require a signature of a person other than a BC land surveyor
  • An application that includes a supporting document.

These documents must be electronically signed and certified by a class of subscriber authorized to be a designate by an e-filing direction.

This amendment will not change who is eligible to certify electronic documents such as a Form A transfer (i.e. a lawyer or notary). When the amendments come into force, the current requirements will be restated in e-filing directions that establish the classes of subscriber that may be a designate (e.g. lawyer, notary, land surveyor, ASR member) and the documents that each class may certify as a designate.

Elimination of duplicative provisions related to e-filing of applications, instruments and plans

When Part 10.1 was first enacted, it did not allow for e-filing of electronic plans. The current Division 2.1 – Electronic Plan Applications and Electronic Plans was added later to enable the submission of electronic Land Title Act plans. This division duplicates a number of existing provisions regarding e-filing requirements contained in Division 2 – Electronic Applications and Instruments.

Wherever possible, the new Part 10.1 combines these duplicative provisions so that they are stated only once and apply equally to all e-filed documents.

Questions regarding these or related topics can be directed to moreinfo@ltsa.ca