Electronic filing

E-filing at the Land Title Office: what features are expected?

Plans continue at the Land Title Branch for the electronic filing of land titles to be a reality by the Spring of 2001.

The new e-filing system should enable lawyers — from anywhere in the province — to submit land title documents electronically, along with the necessary fees and property transfer taxes. The e-filing system will also pioneer the use of secure digital signatures: see May-June, 1999 and November-December, 1999 Benchers’ Bulletin for details.

The current paper system will still be available, unchanged, for those who need to use it.

Although it is early in the design process — and consultations in the profession are still underway — the Land Title Branch and its design consultant (DMR Consulting Group) can pinpoint some core features. As the design is finalized, the Land Title Branch will bring forward the details:

Activity advisory service – This service will inform a subscriber when any activity occurs against a specified parcel of land. Those subscribers who request notification will be advised by e-mail within a specified timeframe.

Title data extract – This feature will allow a subscriber to extract from the LTO database a property owner’s name, parcel identifier and legal description for download to the subscriber’s workstation. This is intended to reduce errors that can occur in transcribing information from one document to another.

Forms preparation – This feature will allow the creation, modification and printing of LTO Forms A, B and C as well as the PTT form. These forms will be saved as files at the desktop, which can then be e-mailed to other legal professionals or submitted to the LTO through the electronic filing system.

Forms locking – The electronic filing system will provide a set of computer change controls designed to prevent any alteration to an electronic instrument without the knowledge of the lawyer or notary who drafted it.

Digital signature – A lawyer’s digital signature will likely be applied using a smart card protected by a password. The digital signature certifies that a True Copy of the electronic instrument or return has been executed and witnessed, and that the lawyer is in possession of that True Copy or of a copy of that True Copy.

Electronic submission – A number of submission options are under consideration. Immediate Submission means that documents are received by the LTO during office hours. Delayed Submission allows a lawyer to submit documents electronically at his or her convenience and specify that they be automatically submitted as of a particular date or be placed on hold pending manual submission or removal. This is intended to allow firms to prepare large volumes of transactions in advance to be processed at a future date (such as at month’s end.)

One firm (e.g., purchaser’s law firm) in a transaction is defined as the submission manager, which is responsible for submitting all electronic forms. The order in which the forms are to be processed is defined by the sender. Registrations dealing with separate but dependent closings are accommodated with package and submission options.

Electronic payments – Monies for LTO fees will be deducted from the submitter’s BC OnLine account, and taxes for property transfer tax will be paid though electronic funds transfer.

Notification services – After a submission is made, an e-mail notification will occur under any of the following circumstances: if the submission fails critical validation; after document numbers are assigned with the confirmation of receipt and required information; when a defect notice is created; and when a document or package is registered.