In December conveyancers were abruptly informed that the standard Deedsview access (available at deeds offices only) to documentation would be terminated and replaced with an equivalent available on the net generally. In principle this sounded great! It turned out not to be that good:
- In the first place, the Registrar took the view that if one wanted to call up a document from one’s office one could presumably print the document; she resultantly charges R73 (which technically is a copy charge) instead of R14 (which is a viewing charge), which, although possibly arguable, is not quite cricket.
- In the second place, the system is not free of issues:
- One needed to register and obtain a new password. Obtaining this not as easy as one might have thought, given that all of us had been using then system (on credit) for years. Having to prove that one runs an account, when we have all been paying our accounts with the deeds office, in some cases for a century, is again, understandable, but certainly a pain in the ass.
- Once registered, one discovers that access is not as easy as logging in and going for it:
i, Deedsweb works on Chrome; Deedsview works only on Explorer;
ii, if your password has more than seven digits, you should not enter more than the first seven on Deedsview/Explorer lest it denies all knowledge of your existence; and, lastly
iii, The system does not seem to link to all scanned documents, which means that if a hardcopy is not available, one cannot get any access to that document, electronically or otherwise.
The initiative is to be applauded – in Pietermaritzburg, for instance, the microfiche system of viewing deeds has been crippled for probably 20 years and is in dire need of replacement. However, much frustration awaits when one is pushed for time and the information sought is not accessible.