Mandatory Electronic Conveyancing Now on the Agenda

Posted at Legal Practice Intelligence - 4 August 2016

A paperless conveyancing future in NSW is one step closer, with the NSW Government announcing plans to accelerate the transition to electronic conveyancing and progressively phase out paper certificates of title in NSW.

The initiative comes amid a nation-wide move towards e-conveyancing, with Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia all recently announcing new measures to transition conveyancing to the digital channel.

E-conveyancing could become compulsory for those transactions that are able to be settled electronically.

The NSW Government has begun a consultation with financial institutions, legal practitioners, conveyancers and other stakeholders, to develop a pathway to phase out paper-based conveyances by 2019.

As a first step – and in line with moves announced by the Victorian and Western Australian Governments – by March 2017 financial institutions will be required to lodge certain mortgages and discharges of mortgage via the national e-conveyancing platform, with the issuing of paper certificates of title to banks to be phased out in that time as well.

The Australian Bankers’ Association Chief Executive Steven Münchenberg welcomed the plan, saying, “The ABA supports a nationally consistent e-conveyancing system as a way of creating efficiencies and more certainty for consumers.

“The ABA will be working with the NSW Government on this transition and its timetable, and we look forward to other jurisdictions adopting similar considered approaches so there is a nationally consistent, co-ordinated and timely transition.”

The NSW Minister for Finance, Services & Property, Dominic Perrottet said “Across Australia, the future of conveyancing is digital. The benefits are clear, the technology is here, and this is our plan for NSW to lead the way. We are committed to working with all stakeholders to make sure they have the technical capacity, training and resources they need to adapt as conveyancing goes digital.”

The Government is expected to consider the outcomes of the consultation, and the next steps in the transition to e-conveyancing, in the final quarter of 2016.

Conveyancing practitioners have been in a voluntary change management phase, encouraged to adopt e-conveyancing for their own benefit and the benefit of their clients.

This change management activity is about to take on a new tone if compulsory electronic settlements becomes a reality.

In January 2016, the regulator, ARNECC reported that “at present less than 5 per cent of in-scope transactions are being completed electronically. Given the significant investment to date of resources and reputation by ARNECC members in electronic conveyancing, there is now some urgency for encouraging an acceleration of its take-up.”

The momentum of adoption of e-conveyancing has continued during the year with PEXA announcing today that 83 banks and credit unions and 2600+ legal and conveyancing practices are signed to the Property Exchange Australia (PEXA) e-Conveyancing network.

Just several months ago the value of property transacted online passed the $10 billion mark, now it’s doubled and is well in excess of $20 billion, according to PEXA.

In January 2016, ARNECC's stated aim was for 60% of in-scope transactions to be completed electronically by the end of 2018. Now, 100% is a real possibility.  

 

© 2016 Legal Practice Intelligence


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