Before I get into today’s topic, just a reminder that older versions of the electronic forms are being phased out. I cautioned about this in an earlier post and advised that people are receiving warning messages. Now the warning message states that “All older versions of the electronic Form A, B, C Charge, C Release and other forms will be cancelled in June, 2012” and “once cancelled, the form will not be accepted if executed after the cancellation date”. So, it is important that you use current versions of the electronic forms.
The topic of today’s post is managing package submissions and follows-up on comments I made last week regarding survey plan submissions. When I refer to package submissions, I’m referring to a broad spectrum of submissions where it is necessary for multiple documents and/or plans to be registered in a certain sequence and priority, submitted by one party or by multiple parties.
The cumulative effect of the January and May, 2012 e-filing requirements will be that most basic transactions have to be e-filed, with few exceptions, but there will still be package submissions that can be filed in paper form, particularly submissions involving survey plans requiring approving officer approval – and paper filing may still be the preferred approach in those cases. Consider the following when determining whether to prepare and file a package in paper or electronic form:
- Your level of experience with e-filing – a large package can be difficult to manage electronically, so, if possible, start small and work up to more complex packages;
- The size and complexity of the package – a large package involves the handling of numerous electronic files and there may be multiple versions of each electronic document. This requires a real attention to the proper naming and organization of files – ensure that electronic file names do not contain any invalid characters (e.g. no brackets or spaces) and that the names adequately describe the contents and version so that they can be easily identified and sequenced. Everyone working on the transaction should use the same naming conventions so that there is no confusion. If you mix-up versions or don’t clearly identify file contents, you can end up spending considerable time trying to straighten this out before you e-file; and
- The types of documents/plans in the package – if the package includes an unusual document or application, or one that you are not familiar with and have not filed before, such as a local government process or application, particularly if it has not been mandated for e-filing, then you may want to check with a registry agent or the LTSA to ensure that it can be e-filed. The e-filing system depends on business rules being programmed into the system, but there may be unusual applications that have not been programmed or they may not have been programmed to occur in a particular order. As time goes on, these types of problems should decrease.
If you’re involved in a transaction where there is still an option to e-file or file in paper form, then it’s essential that the parties involved are all working in the same format. You have limited options if you deal with this at the last minute and are trying to avoid re-doing documents. One alternative that some people choose is to split the package and file the paper documents separately from the electronic documents, not realizing that these will not automatically be processed together. There are circumstances where you might be able to split up a package without causing a problem, but you have to be very careful how you do it. You cannot, for example, file a subdivision plan in paper form and then separately file a transfer of a newly subdivided lot in electronic form. If you don’t file the transfer concurrently with the plan, then you will have to wait until the plan is fully registered and the PID number is issued. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the LTSA is not set-up to handle mixed-format packages and you need to avoid this problem.
This takes me to the concept of concurrent registration. I’m a purist on this one – if a transaction involves more than one document and you want to ensure that there are no intervening encumbrances, then the documents should be filed concurrently and in the right order. People sometimes try to manage a mixed-format issue by splitting packages or are otherwise filing in a way that seems to ignore the importance of concurrent registration, causing problems that they may not anticipate. Then they need the LTSA to jump in and ensure that it all goes together. In my view, even if all documents are being e-filed, and even if it’s a basic transaction such as a transfer and a mortgage, it should be treated as a concurrent registration and if more than one party is submitting documents then they should use a “meet” procedure. And, you still need to wait the one-hour stipulated by the LTSA before doing a post search. The LTSA is still processing a number of applications in paper and will continue to do so after May 7th, particularly applications that require preliminary inspection by the LTSA like certificates of pending litigation, and these can appear, unexpectedly, on title.
There are options to consider when you need to complete an e-filing “meet”. The BC Online meet process is based on the concept that one party is the initiator of the meet and others are contributing parties. All parties pay a fee to take part in the process. The parties must agree on the one party who will take responsibility for making the package submission. All parties will receive system-generated messages advising when electronic documents have been contributed, when documents are removed (for example, if corrections are required), when the order of documents changes, etc. The parties need to stay involved in the process to approve changes and review the system-generated e-mails. Another option is Dye & Durham Corporation’s Online MeetsTM that allows the contributing parties to upload their documents electronically through Dye & Durham’s ETRAYTM. As with paper meets, the parties agree on the order of registration ahead of time and Dye & Durham, as registry agent, ensures that the electronic documents are submitted concurrently in the agreed-upon order. The process is managed by the agent on behalf of all parties.
A couple of final thoughts. You can validate your e-filing package on-line to check that it will meet the basic validation rules of the electronic system. However, this validation process only checks certain things and you may validate it and still have a rejection when you ultimately e-file. And, you can use a registry agent to assist you in pre-vetting the package, ensuring it is filed in the correct order, monitoring the progress of registration and assisting with the resolution of defects. Package submissions have a high rate of defect, particularly if they involve a survey plan – regardless of whether they are in paper or electronic form.
Next week….not sure what the topic will be yet. Let’s see what happens in the next week as we get closer to the May 7 date.