E-Filing: It’s Not Entirely Electronic And You May Need Original Paper Documents

April 26, 2012

When people start using electronic systems, they often expect to be able to do everything electronically….and quickly. Then they’re caught off-guard when they need to get original paper documents, for example, or find that a part of what they’re doing can’t be handled electronically. This may become more of an issue as we move towards May 7 and the implementation of the Phase 2 mandatory e-filing requirements.

The types of electronic forms that were mandated for e-filing in January, 2012 (Forms A, B and C) are set up in the same way and you follow the same process when you complete one of these forms and e-file it. All of them have a fairly simply representation that the subscriber gives when applying the digital signature and allows the subscriber to apply the signature if he/she has a true copy of the electronic form (e.g. the originally signed paper copy) or a copy. These electronic forms are often e-filed without an originally signed paper document in hand.

The next phase of mandatory requirements being implemented on May 7, 2012 includes a broad variety of land title filings. While the electronic form to be used for filing a claim of builders lien is similar to the electronic Form A, B or C, others will be e-filed using a multi-purpose electronic filing form (e.g. electronic Form 17, “Strata Property Act Filing” form or Declaration) with a scanned “supporting document”. The requirements of the Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia (the “LTSA”) and the Land Title Act, as well as the representations of the subscriber on these electronic forms may require that the scanned image attached to the electronic form be the image of an original paper document and that the subscriber have the original paper document in his/her possession. You will need to check the specific requirements for each type of filing. See the LTSA’s “Electronic Form 17 Help Guide” detailing the approved supporting documents to be attached to electronic Form 17s.

So, be aware of the differing requirements and don’t assume that if you’ve been filing Form As, Bs and Cs, that you can follow the same process for all types of filings.

There are a number of applications that are exempted from e-filing because they are designated as applications requiring preliminary inspection, like a caveat or certificate of pending litigation (a “CPL”). People are often confused about whether they can e-file a CPL and if they e-file whether there is any requirement for original documents. At the present time and for the foreseeable future, you will have the option of filing a CPL with the LTSA in hard copy (paper form) or electronically. But, the process involved in filing CPLs illustrates how, even if you choose to e-file, it is not entirely electronic and you will need to deal with the requirements, and time frames, of another registry.

In order to file a CPL against a parcel of land, you must have the required Land Title Act paper form (an  “LTA Form”), and a petition/notice of claim, or other document by which you are making the claim (the “Court Claim”). You need to file these documents in the applicable court registry and with the LTSA, as follows:

  • Court Filing: file the original LTA Form in hard copy in the court registry and receive a court stamp and Registrar’s signature; file the Court Claim in the court registry in hard copy or electronically; and
  • LTSA Filing: file the LTA Form and Court Claim in hard copy or electronically. If filing in hard copy, file the original LTA Form with the original court stamp and Registrar’s signature together with a copy of the filed Court Claim (stamped with particulars of filing in the court registry). If filing electronically, the originally stamped and signed LTA Form received from the court registry and copy of filed Court Claim (stamped with particulars of filing in the court registry), the “supporting documents” , are scanned and attached to a completed electronic Form 17 Charge, Notation or Filing, and it is digitally signed by a lawyer or notary who has a valid digital signature certificate and has the supporting documents in his/her possession.

Regardless of whether the LTA Form is submitted to the LTSA in hard copy or electronically, it is subject to preliminary inspection by LTSA staff and if it is not submitted for filing prior to 3 p.m. on a business day (Monday to Friday excepting statutory holidays) there is no guarantee that it will be inspected and a registration number issued on that business day. Keep in mind that while the land e-filing system would allow you to e-file a CPL early in the morning and late in the evening Monday to Friday or on the weekend, you will not be able to complete the filing process and receive a registration number outside of the LTSA’s regular business hours.

Next week – it will be my last post of this series. Further thoughts on getting ready for Phase 2 on May 7 and on the future of e-filing.

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