LTSA Changes: Retirement Of COVID Measures Effective September 30, 2023

In response to COVID-19 (“COVID”), many adjustments were made to the land title applications process in order to accommodate province-wide restrictions. Specifically, the formalities under the Land Title Act were relaxed to allow land title documents to be witnessed remotely and individuals with medical concerns were typically granted permission to sign the documents without the physical presence of an officer.

Effective September 30, 2023, many of the COVID-related measures implemented by the Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia (the “LTSA”) will be retired in line with the removal of provincial COVID restrictions.

Specifically, the following measures will be retired:

  1. The process for remote witnessing of affidavits for use in Land Title Applications[1]

Before COVID, clients were required to personally visit a lawyer when required to sign affidavits relating to land title applications. However, in response to COVID restrictions, the LTSA introduced a process that enabled lawyers to swear land title affidavits remotely, eliminating the need for clients to be physically present.

Moving forward, the commissioning of affidavits will return to the pre-COVID requirements. This means that once again, it will be necessary for a client to be physically present before a lawyer when swearing an affidavit.

  1. Land Title Act 49 affidavit use due to COVID medical concerns

Under the Land Title Act, certain land title documents must be witnessed by an officer. Section 49 provides an exception to this requirement, allowing documents to be signed without an officer present where an affidavit testifying to the authenticity of the signature is provided. The Registrar determines the appropriateness of applying this exception on a case-by-case basis.

During COVID measures, individuals facing medical concerns related to the virus were generally allowed to sign land title documents without an officer present under the section 49 exception. Going forward, individuals with COVID medical concerns can no longer rely on these concerns as a reason for omitting the physical presence of an officer during the affidavit signing process.

In conclusion, the LTSA will retire several COVID-related measures, including remote witnessing of affidavits and the use of section 49 affidavits for COVID medical concerns, effective September 30, 2023. The commissioning of affidavits will revert to pre-COVID requirements, with clients needing to be physically present when swearing an affidavit. It is important to stay informed as these changes can affect the validity of a land title application.

Paul Tonita is a partner at Pushor Mitchell. His Commercial Law experience includes assisting clients,  whether they are getting involved with their first business or if they have established operations that require more sophisticated advice. These discussions often revolve around various business structures and how to structure a corporation and get it off the ground. Paul has a great deal of experience assisting clients with the transactional aspects of buying and selling businesses. He also works closely with commercial lenders as they help business owners get established or continue to grow. His clients often come to him to draft and advise on contracts and provide them with general advice.

Marina Nichols is a summer student at Pushor Mitchell and is completing law school at Thompson Rivers University. Marina completed her undergraduate degree in Management at the University of British Columbia Okanagan.

[1] For more information, see: Practice Bulletin No. 01-20.


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