Conducting our business in a COVID-19 safe way
Conveyancing processes traditionally involved several face-to-face meetings, for the purposes of matter opening and verification of client identity and contract signing.
Douglas Legal has for some considerable time (pre-pandemic) been using several tools that enable us to minimise paper usage and carry out property transactions electronically. This results in a more cost-effective, faster, secure and efficient process. By going electronic, we also help minimise contact which could potentially spread COVID-19.
Douglas Legal continues to be committed to COVID-19 safety and keeping our clients and community safe, while delivering high quality and timely work to our clients.
Some of the tools we use (as well as generally operating a paperless practice) are noted below.
Verification of Identity (VOI)
VOI is a mandatory process conducted by us to minimise the risk of property fraud and identity theft. This process is required under government legislation.
The Model Participation Rules (MPR), published by the Australian Registrars National Electronic Conveyancing Council, require that the VOI process may be done face-to-face according to the VOI Standard in the MPR. However, the MPR also provides that if we are reasonably satisfied that the face-to-face interview cannot readily be conducted, the VOI process can also be conducted so that we ‘verify the identity of a Person in some other way that constitutes the taking of reasonable steps’.
Our VOI process is conducted electronically in a COVID-19 safe way, harnessing the technology built into the Infotrack online identity verification platform. This platform uses sophisticated facial recognition and the latest technology to read, scan and compare submitted photo identifications. The platform is linked into Australian government databases and within minutes of completion provides us with a written report that either verifies the identification or flags any potential authenticity concerns.
In addition to being COVID-19 safe and efficient, the technology behind electronic VOI ensures our clients’ important documents are securely stored.
Signing important documents
The Electronic Transactions Act 2000 (NSW) provides the legal framework to facilitate the use of electronic transactions, including the use of electronic signatures.
Whenever possible (particularly at this stage for residential conveyancing work), Douglas Legal uses an electronic signing tool that enables us to electronically and securely send documents to our clients and other parties. All parties can then review and sign the documents electronically from any location and any device. This practice minimises physical contact, while also saving cost and time. As an example, a 300 page pdf contract for the sale and purchase of land can be issued, received and duly signed within minutes. This replaces the old method of printing two counterparts of a 300-page contract and arranging for physical signing and then courier or postage, etc.
In addition to being COVID-19 safe and efficient, electronic signing is secure because a document, once electronically signed, has the benefit of an audit trail, tamper-sealing, authentication features and watertight security.
Finally, when acting in a conveyancing matter, for the most part (and often exclusively) the process is entirely electronic.
As is mandatory now in NSW in most instances, the contract for sale is settled via the electronic eConveyancing platform PEXA. Douglas Legal is a law firm that is duly registered with PEXA and, as part of this, the Douglas Legal Law Practice Trust Account is part of our firm's PEXA profile account.
The end result of all of the above for our clients? A very convenient, efficient and secure conveyancing experience.