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August 18, 1970
Honorable James P. McNally
Pend Oreille County
Cite as: AGLO 1970 No. 113
Dear Mr. McNally:
You have asked for our opinion on the following question:
Are the bond requirements of § 5, chapter 153, Laws of 1965 (RCW 18.44.050), known as the escrow registration act, applicable to individuals, partnerships or corporations engaged in the closing of real estate transactions?
Escrow agents have been required since 1965 (chapter 153, Laws of 1965), subject to the exemptions set forth in RCW 18.44.020, to register with the state Department of Motor Vehicles. One of the requirements for such registration is the filing of a fidelity bond on each "officer and employee" of the applicant. RCW 18.44.050. In AGO 65-66 No. 58 [[to Department of Motor Vehicles on December 14, 1965]]we advised the director of the Department of Motor Vehicles that the bond requirement did not apply to applicants for registration who were individuals or partnerships not having any officers or employees. There have not been any changes in the statute which would alter the conclusions we expressed in that opinion. The only amendment which has been made to the escrow agent registration act was by § 1, chapter 76, Laws of 1967, Ex. Sess., which added title insurance companies to the exemption set forth in RCW 18.44.020 (1). Since the exceptions set forth in RCW 18.44.020 exempt considerably more individuals and business entities than are actually required to be registered under the act, it is necessary to examine that section to determine whether registration is in fact required. For your interest we have also enclosed a copy of AGO 65-66 No. 56 [[to Robert F. Brachtenbach, State Representative on December 14, 1965]]to Representative Brachtenbach.
[[Orig. Op. Page 2]] In answer to your question, any corporation subject to the registration requirement of chapter 18.44 RCW is required to file a fidelity bond under RCW 18.44.050. However, individuals and partnerships which are subject to registration under the same act are only required to file if they have officers or employees.
We trust that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Philip H. Austin
Assistant Attorney General