Property lawyers brace for VOI changes
While a majority of firms have prepared for the changes in verification of identity (VOI) procedures, concern remains around the burden it could place on clients.
The VOI standard for verification of client identity in conveyancing was introduced last year and has now been adopted by a number of states, including Victoria, Queensland and NSW.
Western Australia and South Australia have similar, but not identical, requirements.
The standard, which replaces the ‘100 point’ system, requires a face-to-face verification as well as original identity documents from one of five categories.
Practitioners are also required to store evidence of verification for seven years.
An April survey by InfoTrack of legal and conveyancing professionals found 96 per cent of respondents have reviewed the latest VOI requirements and are confident they are taking reasonable steps in their practice.
It also found 74 per cent of respondents had adapted their VOI process in light of the new regime and 45 per cent were considering an automated process.
However, the survey also identified areas of concern around the new system, particularly in regards to clients.
Overall, 50 per cent of respondents find the requirements onerous and 40 per cent had clients raise objections over the process.
Most commonly cited difficulties included that clients find the requirements invasive and excessive, especially the requirement to be photographed; that the cost and effort involved is higher; and that many clients do not have the required documents.
Practitioners also felt that the requirement to take "reasonable steps" to verify identity was insufficiently defined.
InfoTrack chief executive John Ahern called on state registries to consider simplifying the VOI process.
"Practitioners are following the new VOI rules, but stricter and – perhaps unnecessary document requirements – are placing a very significant burden on their clients," he said.
"We would like to think that the state registries will take these concerns seriously and consider making the process less onerous. However, in the mean time we expect that practitioners will increasingly look to technology to fast track the process."