This is a particularly important issue for title abstractors. Although the indexing procedures are very strong - sometimes requiring two different people to index the same document - mistakes still happen. While some recorders make notations in the index when they make corrections, others do not. This means that if you get that dreaded call that you "missed something," when you recheck the records you may not be able to tell that there was a change. You, and your client, will wonder how on Earth you missed it. You could end up facing a claim on your Errors and Omissions policy for something that was not really your fault.
This was never a problem with the book indices because changes made in ink were always plainly obvious. Now the change is electronic, there may not be any apparent record that anything was ever different from what now appears in the index. Mr. Campbell understood why this was a concern, but he said there was no official policy on how to handle this issue among the recorders. He said that the recorders are bound to follow the Ohio Revised Code and that the Recorders Association cannot tell recorders what to do. As he explained it, each recorder is responsible for following the law with guidance from their county prosecutor.
As abstractors we want the index corrected when mistakes are found - it is important to maintain the integrity of the public records. However, with no real system in place to protect abstractors when the index is changed, many are hesitant to point out indexing errors when they find them.
The solution seems simple enough, a notation in the public index should be required whenever a change is made. But the Ohio Revised Code does not address procedures for correcting mistakes in the index. Perhaps it should.
Mr. Campbell noted that the Recorders Association was working on updating the laws relating to county recorders - simple things like making the statutes gender-neutral and changing the outdated references to "alphabetical index," to account for electronic indexing. This might be a good opportunity for someone to lobby for changes to create a proper procedure for notating changes made to correct indexing errors.
We all know that mistakes happen and this really isn't about casting blame, but more accurately preventing an innocent party from being held liable when changes are made. To use a buzz-word we are all familiar with, it is about transparency.
There were many more interesting topics discussed at the OAITA conference. They provided 3 hours of CE/CLE credits on Escrow Accounting Practices and Procedures, Ohio Real Property Case Law Update, and Identifying Mortgage Fraud. There was also an interesting presentation on Ohio Notary Requirements for Real Estate Transactions. It was a very informative conference and I'm glad I went - "thank you" to the OAITA for putting the event together!