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E-conveyancing – what does it mean for your business?

E-conveyancing – what does it mean for your business?

By Geoff Bowyer

Caveats Conveyancing Duties Real Property 

Recently I have started to notice the heavy advertising of electronic conveyancing and commercial platform PEXA. As most lawyers are probably aware, PEXA is the commercial entity building the electronic conveyancing platform and they are doing a great job of informing lawyers about their product. Currently practitioners are able to lodge caveats with PEXA, and in February 2015 lodgments and financial settlements will be conducted online. So with the imminent arrival of e-conveyancing, I turned my mind to exactly what this will mean for lawyers and principals. I consulted my esteemed colleague Simon Libbis. Not only is Simon an accredited property law specialist and principal of Subdivision Lawyers, he has also served as Registrar-General for South Australia and has worked extensively on developing an electronic conveyancing framework. Accordingly, Simon was able to offer me a well informed view on the topic with a practical focus on exactly what e-conveyancing will mean for lawyers and principals. After a preliminary chat with Simon about the legal framework and concepts of electronic conveyancing, I identified three key points: some requirements of electronic conveyancing will become mandatory for paper based transactions; there is a very real possibility that in the future practitioners will have no choice other than to conduct settlements online; and whether I like it or not, it is time to adapt and embrace this significant change. Although the idea of no longer having a paper title has made my head spin, to calm my nerves and prepare myself and my firm for e-conveyancing, I compiled a list of things I will need to know and understand. The list includes: How does e-conveyancing work and how do I get started? How do I comply with the legal framework, rules and requirements (and consequences of non-compliance)? What are the risks and what does it mean for my business? What are the conditions that will need to go into the contract of sale? What are digital signatures and how should I obtain and use them? What client authorisations will I require and what do I need to tell clients? What is my obligation to identify the client and how should I do this? What does it means to certify the dealing? What happens if I get it wrong and what paperwork will I need to keep? How does electronic settlement happen without bank cheques or documents? What’s the best process for transferring funds and making sure they go to the right account? How do I comply with trust account requirements? How you know the title is being transferred and when does settlement actually occur? How is the stamp duty and registration fees paid? How are payments made to other parties? What do I do if there is a system malfunction? If all else fails, is there an option to revert back to paper? I know this is a long list of questions without the answers, but I think it’s important to start by highlighting the changes and practical implications for moving to this new system, and what I need to do to ensure my practice is ready. Like me, I’m sure many of you are probably just beginning to turn your minds to the practicalities of e-conveyancing. The fact is we will all need to know and understand the points raised in my list. Of course, LIV is best placed to provide you with balanced education, training and information about e-conveyancing. You can find out more about upcoming CPD and events on our CPD & Networking webpages.

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