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Lower conveyancing charges wanted


Cite as: (2008) 82(9) LIJ, p. 23

Until there is a national e-conveyancing system, the LIV believes fees should not distinguish between paper-based and electronic transactions.

The LIV has called on the state government to reduce charges for paper-based conveyancing transactions in light of the poor take-up of Victoria’s electronic conveyancing system and a renewed drive for a national system.

The fee increases were designed to push users towards the controversial $30 million Electronic Conveyancing Victoria (ECV) system, but since its introduction in November last year, there has been only one reported property settlement.

LIV CEO Mike Brett Young said the current fee structure was an “unjust financial imposition” on the end users of Land Victoria’s registration system.

“Given COAG’s [the Council of Australian Governments] agreement to establish a national system, it is unlikely that there will be any further take-up of ECV even if ECV, or aspects of it, are found to be suitable for adoption into the national model,” he said in a letter to Land Victoria’s registrar of titles and executive director Chris McRae.

“The LIV considers that Land Victoria’s lodgment fees structure should not distinguish between paper-based transactions and electronic conveyancing transactions until a national system, of which Victoria is a part, is endorsed by all key stakeholders,” Mr Brett Young added.

In July, COAG agreed to set up a national electronic conveyancing system by March 2010.

It agreed that a new organisation charged with developing the national online model should review the ECV model and, “to the extent that it is suitable, use it as the basis for the underlying software for the new, national e-conveyancing system”.

Pending the introduction of the new national model, the LIV has called for the reinstatement of the lodgment fees structure and lodgment fee amounts which applied before last year’s amendments to transfer of land regulations.

The state opposition has estimated the new fee structure will cost Victorians who buy and sell property $6 million annually.

The LIV has baulked at endorsing ECV, claiming it exposes solicitors to increased risk and liability. The major banks have also refused to use the system, preferring to wait for a model that can be used across all jurisdictions.

The Legal Practitioners’ Liability Committee (LPLC) – the professional indemnity insurer for Victorian lawyers – said in late July that it had not been told where the ECV project stands given the COAG resolution, but that it remained willing to meet and discuss the issues with all parties.

“I think the relevant liability issues have been identified, and we will continue our course of constructive dialogue, regardless of whether it is the Victorian model or a national one which goes forward,” said LPLC claims solicitor Justin Toohey.

A spokesperson for Minister for Environment and Climate Change and Innovation Gavin Jennings did not respond to the question of whether the government would consider the LIV’s request to roll back the charges.

“The Victorian government is pleased that COAG has recognised that Victoria’s ECV system can provide the basis for a national electronic conveyancing system. Victoria has invested in the only operational e-conveyancing system in Australia, which will reduce administrative burden for financial institutions and legal practitioners, and deliver real savings for consumers,” he said in an emailed reply to the LIJ.


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