Frustrated Queensland property lawyers are seeking answers from the Queensland government, after repeated attempts for clarity on the timeframe for the formal introduction of electronic conveyancing have been ignored.

This follows the introduction of Electronic Conveyancing National Law (Queensland) in May 2013 and the Payroll Tax Rebate, Revenue and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2015 (Act) in June 2015.

According to new research by legal technology firm GlobalX, 84 per cent of Queensland lawyers and conveyancers support the move to electronic conveyancing, and are waiting for the Titles Register (part of the Department of Natural Resources & Mines), to lead the industry and implement a timeframe for the smooth introduction.

GlobalX CEO Peter Maloney said e-conveyancing was overwhelmingly supported by the legal industry, with the New South Wales, Victorian, Western Australian and South Australian Registrar of Titles all providing clear industry guidance as to the implementation timeframe.

“Despite the move by other state governments to phase in electronic conveyancing, Queensland is yet to provide industry guidance,” Mr Maloney said.

“It really is disappointing for Queensland lawyers who often operate across multiple jurisdictions and are therefore having to operate two different systems.”

“Take the lawyer working in Goondiwindi settling a property for a client in Boogabilla – two States, two systems. This situation is even more extreme in highly populated border towns in the Tweed Regions.”

The delay is not just impacting small law firms; Australia’s largest national firms are implementing huge operational and process changes to accommodate the new laws – but are having to exclude their Queensland offices.

Mr Maloney said GlobalX’s research revealed more than 91 per cent of those surveyed agreed electronic conveyancing was inevitable, and, 72 per cent said the arrival of electronic conveyancing would have a positive effect on the industry.

“The current paper-based process in Queensland means that five separate documents must be fully signed – and just one missing signature can completely derail a settlement,” he said.

“This process is in dire need of reform and Property Exchange Australia (PEXA) offers an innovative solution.

“Other state government decisions to reform legislation surrounding electronic conveyancing have been historic.

“It’s time that our government provides certainty for the industry in the form of regulatory change, as the industry will benefit enormously if the Queensland Government communicates an implementation timeline, instrument by instrument, in a phased and considered approach.

The reality is electronic conveyancing requires a network effect – all providers needs to be operating on the platform to generate the greatest economic benefit to the industry, government and consumers.”

PEXA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Marcus Price said that industry professionals need to champion the cause to update Queensland property legislation so that consumers can see the real benefits.

“Without certainty around how property transactions will be required to be completed in future, firms must support both manual and electronic processes; a costly and inefficient outcome that misses out on delivering the market efficiencies e-Conveyancing was designed to create,” Mr Price said.

“Buying property can be very stressful and online conveyancing offers a chance to alleviate that stress.

“The sooner that property professionals, buyers and sellers move to a digital system, the less processing errors will occur, creating ease of mind for everyone involved.”

In NSW, VIC and WA, property transfers will be all digital by August 2019.

© 2017 Legal Practice Intelligence