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March 26, 2020, 7:44 am

Temporary Witnessing Requirements under the Land Title Act

Union of British Columbia Municipalities

In support of recommendations by the BC Public Health Officer to maintain social distance, the Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia (LTSA) has implemented temporary changes during these extraordinary times with respect to witnessing requirements when executing instruments under the Land Title Act.

1. Sections 42-48 in Part 5 of Land Title Act

This part of the Land Title Act requires individuals executing an instrument to appear before an officer. However, in circumstances where individuals do not wish to appear before an officer due to social distancing concerns, the Registrar will accept an Affidavit of Execution sworn under section 49 of the Act. For more details on section 49, including preferred forms of affidavit, please see paragraphs 5.88 to 5.101 of the Land Title Practice Manual.
 
Although virtual commissioning of affidavits for use in Civil and Family proceedings were approved on March 20, 2020, the Land Title Act does not allow for remote or videoconference witnessing. The Supreme Court of BC has held that the words “appear before” require a physical presence before the officer, and not an appearance by means of videoconference technology (First Canadian Title Insurance Company v. The Law Society of B.C., 2004 BCSC 197). The Law Society of BC is currently working with the Province on a solution.

2. Instruments Executed and Witnessed Contemporaneously in Counterpart
Another acceptable option would be for individuals to sign an execution copy of a document in the presence of, but at a safe distance from, the officer who would apply his/her signature and officer details on an identical execution copy. If the Registrar requires the applicant to produce the execution copy under section 168.57 of the Land Title Act, having the two signatures on separate pages will not trigger any action against the designate who certified the document.

3. True Copies Accepted for Supporting Documents
The Director of Land Titles has published a list of supporting documents for which a true copy may be used in place of the original document.

As the COVID-19 situation evolves, current information about land title practice matters will be posted to our website at ltsa.ca and Twitter account @LTSABC.

The LTSA is committed to protecting the health and well-being of our employees, customers and visiting members of the public, while ensuring our business operations continue as usual. Thank you for your continued understanding and support.

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