Be careful when handing over certificates of title

17 April, 2015

Did you know that LPLC has published a checklist of policies for law firms?

Policy number 20 is about providing client documents to the client or another firm.

A number of practitioners have contacted LPLC about what the procedure should be when a request is made to hand over a certificate of title to a client, their attorney or another firm. With the start of e-conveyancing and the abolition of paper titles, the request will be to hand over control of the electronic title (eCT).

Consider the following matters when writing a policy to cover this type of request.

  • Where a request is made by the client or their attorney for the title or control of the eCT, the client must provide proof of identity and authority such as a photo ID and a certified copy of any power of attorney (POA) before the transfer can be made.
  • Always keep a copy of the paper title, ID and any POA.
  • A request must be made by everyone registered on the title. Claims have arisen where titles have been handed over to one co-owner without the consent of the other co-owners.
  • Where the request is made by another law firm, ensure it is in writing on the letterhead of the law firm and it should state the name of the client(s) the firm is acting for. Also, require the other firm to provide you with an original authority signed by the registered proprietor(s) giving consent to you handing over the paper title or control of the eCT to them. This should be kept in your deed packet for the client.
  • Paper titles should only be sent by registered post. Consider insisting on any title being sent by courier or collected by hand.
  • Whoever collects the paper title must provide identification and sign an acknowledgment of receipt. A copy of the ID should be kept with the signed acknowledgment in your deed packet for the client.
  • The Land Registry should only be notified of the change in control of the eCT after your firm has established the identity and authority of the person who made the request, and holds a signed client authorisation form.

For more information about delivering up documents see the two articles LPLC wrote for the Law Institute Journal – Delivering up documents in June 2009 and You will be missed: but what about your files? in January 2011

For information about eCTs refer to the Land Registry Guide to certificates of title in PEXA.