On 24 May 2021, the Real Property Amendment (Certificates of Title) Act 2021 (Act) came into force. This legislation enables the NSW Government to continue progress toward its clearly stated goal, being the adoption of wholly electronic processes for conveyancing. This progress will be facilitated by the Act which abolishes the legal effect of Certificates of Title (CT's). These changes will come into effect from 11 October 2021.

Traditionally paper CT's have been an integral document when dealing with land as it serves to verify ownership of land and as a record of dealings registered on title. The transition away from the use of paper CT's has been justified by the government on the basis that CT's have 'little utility' in the context of digital conveyancing. The shift towards digital conveyancing was a commitment initiated by the government in 2017 which is now almost complete. A wholly electronic conveyancing process is generally seen as a preferred system, with many jurisdictions embarking on a similar transition.

The government has enacted this new legislation by justifying the changes with reference to the following benefits of digital conveyancing:

  • fewer errors
  • protection against fraud
  • increased efficiency
  • greater reliability
  • faster processing times.

The Torrens land register will continue to be the "single source of truth" when it comes to verifying and recording interests in land. Despite this, the need for a paper copy of this information (or CT) will no longer be required to facilitate transactions involving land.

Although cumbersome to conveyancing processes, the CT does provide a useful summary for landowners or prospective landowners to quickly understand what interests effect property. The government has indicated that this information should continue to be available in absence of paper CT's. To address this issue after the abolishment of CT's, information regarding registered interests of land will be contained in a document issued by the Registrar General called an 'information notice to customers'.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.