Here’s what you need to know about practitioners' certification obligations and the compliance review process, as well as some useful tips on how to avoid unnecessary rework, and store documents.
Practitioners' certification obligations
When lodging electronic instruments in Landonline, practitioners certify that:
- the practitioner has authority to act for the party and that the party has legal capacity to give the authority
- the practitioner has taken reasonable steps to confirm the identity of the party
- if statutory requirements have been specified by the Registrar for the type of instrument, the instrument complies with those requirements, and
- the practitioner holds evidence showing the truth of the above certifications and that the practitioner has retained that evidence for the prescribed period.
At times practitioners may also give certifications relating to applicable additional matters, for example, that they hold consent of a caveator or mortgagee or have complied with Māori freehold land requirements (regulation 7(4) of the Land Transfer Regulations 2018).
A practitioner must certify they hold evidence showing the truth of their certifications. They must retain that evidence for at least 10 years and produce it if the dealing is selected for review under section 30 of the Land Transfer Act 2017 (the Act).
For more information about how to satisfy the authority, identity, consent, statutory and evidentiary requirements, see the Related Content linked at the bottom of this page.
Our compliance monitoring programme
You can expect to be reviewed:
- soon after obtaining Landonline access with certification rights for lodging electronic instruments and routinely thereafter
- soon after being issued a Qualified Certificate of Compliance (as part of our usual follow-up process), or
- as part of a cause-driven audit, for example if the Registrar has concerns or receives a complaint about a particular instrument.
What we do when we initiate a review
When you are selected for review, the Registrar will send you a compliance review request via email. The email will include a questionnaire specifying the instruments under review, and the date by which you must respond.
Keep your email address (and other contact details) in Landonline up to date, so you do not miss these important notifications.
What you do if you are selected for review
Complete sections 2 to 4 of the questionnaire and return it together with the evidence supporting your e-dealing certifications. You can respond via email to: RGLAssurance@linz.govt.nz but before you do, read the section below on how to avoid unnecessary rework and follow-up activity.
A member of the Registrar-General of Land team will review your supporting evidence and contact you if any further evidence is required.
Do not include land transfer tax statements in your response. While practitioners must retain tax statements for 10 years so they can be produced if requested by Inland Revenue, they are not required for LINZ compliance reviews. For privacy reasons, do not record tax information on client A&I forms (or other evidence that may be produced for compliance review purposes), nor attach tax information to an instrument lodged for registration.
If you do not respond to a compliance review request, the Registrar may revoke your authority to certify electronic instruments in accordance with section 29(4) of the Act.
Compliance outcomes and regulatory sanctions
Once the review is completed the Registrar will advise you of the outcome.
A Certificate of Compliance means the Registrar is satisfied you hold sufficient evidence to support your certifications.
A Qualified Certificate of Compliance may be issued in situations where, for example, suitable evidence was not retained, or the evidence did not fully support the certification that was given but the error or omission is remedied retrospectively. After issuing a qualified compliance, we will review a further set of transactions as part of our usual follow-up process.
If a practitioner has not responded to the compliance review request, or is unable to produce the necessary supporting evidence, a non-compliance outcome may be issued.
In cases of serious non-compliance, or where there is a pattern of ongoing compliance issues resulting in a qualified or non-compliance outcome the Registrar may revoke a practitioner’s authority to certify electronic instruments under section 29 of the Land Transfer Act 2017. The New Zealand Law Society may also be notified.
How to avoid unnecessary rework and follow-up activity
We find that compliance review responses are sometimes missing key supporting evidence in the first instance, due to simple oversight. This can easily be avoided by taking additional care when reviewing your client files and collating all the necessary evidence to include in your response.
If you are unsure of the certifications you gave at the time, the Landonline View Instrument Details will confirm the parties you acted for and the certifications you made. As an example, in a Transfer instrument the View Instrument Details will tell you if you acted for both sides of the transaction, or whether you certified that you hold consent from an interest-holder (i.e. a caveator).
A careful review of your client file (including the e-dealing checklist and/or A&I forms) may indicate whether you need to include additional evidence in your response such as connecting documents, evidence reconciling any name discrepancies, file notes, etc., particularly where for example:
- the transaction was high risk
- the client’s name on the A&I form differed from that in their photo ID, or
- a delegate witness was used (for further guidance see sections 4.2, 4.4, and 4.6 of the Authority and Identity Requirements for E-Dealing Guideline 2018).
How to store evidence and for how long
Practitioners must retain their supporting evidence for 10 years from the date on which the instrument to which the certification relates was lodged for registration (regulation 7(4) of the Regulations).
You should have good file management procedures in place to ensure your law firm records are held securely and documents are readily retrievable when needed (including for compliance review purposes).
Property Law Section guidance on retention of authorities
Guideline P of the PLS Guidelines provides further guidance on retention of authorities that covers:
- examples of supporting evidence that may need to be retained
- retaining evidence beyond the 10-year retention period
- electronic retention
- what to do when a client uplifts a file / deeds packet
- what to consider when leaving a law practice to ensure the Registrar’s requirements for retention of evidence and compliance review requests are complied with.
E-Dealing systems and procedures you can put in place to help you meet your obligations
The law firm self-assessment questionnaire is a useful tool to assess your firm’s e-dealing systems and procedures and provides useful examples of the types of controls you could have in place at your firm.
Our e-dealing checklists assist with the registration requirements for transmissions, caveats and subdivisions.