The Australian Institute of Conveyancers Western Australia Division (AICWA) has been lobbying its state’s lawmakers to stop mandatory PEXA settlements. 

AICWA states:

The AICWA has met with representatives from Landgate and the Minister for Transport, Planning and Lands office to outline our concerns.

AICWA remains fully supportive of a transition to electronic settlement. In fact, we accept that there are circumstances where regulation to mandate electronic lodgement of eligible transactions would be both appropriate and indeed desirable.

However, such a mandate is premature at this time.

AICWA was asked to identify the essential criteria that need to be satisfied before it could support such regulation. To ensure protection of both consumers and subscribers the AICWA would like to see:

1. Additional regulation that results in true and effective pricing control by an independent regulatory authority to protect consumers
2. Facilitation of competitive forces by removal of impediments to a second Electronic Network Operator (ELNO)
3.  A transparent Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) & Business Continuity Plan (BCP)
4. Industry concerns addressed such that market forces (rather than regulation) results in organic growth in take-up to a point where a majority of eligible transactions are conducted electronically

In essence AICWA remains opposed to regulation whilst:

  • Regulation creates a monopoly without effective pricing control mechanisms.
  • Significant barriers to entry of a second ELNO exist
  • In the absence of a competitor there is no competitive pressure or incentive to improve product.
  • Regulation overrides rather than compliments market forces

A group of conveyancers has split from AICWA to set up its own organisation in support of the Government’s changes. According to a report from ABC News:

Electronic Conveyancing Association of WA president Ebony Bishop said the existing paper-based process was “archaic” and labour intensive, and she believed there would be benefits for consumers in embracing the change.

[WA Liberal] Opposition Leader Mike Nahan said he was generally supportive of the move to electronic conveyancing and agreed it offered benefits, but he had concerns it would hand PEXA a monopoly.

The Liberals are yet to declare if they will support the changes.

“The Government have decided to mandate this monopoly and they have no regulatory powers over the pricing of it,” he said.

“The information we have is instead of lowering the costs it’s going to increase it.”

The State Government has a 12.5 per cent stake in PEXA, through the statutory authority Landgate.

PEXA has been slated for a $1 billion stock market float or trade sale in the next 12 months.

Electronic settlements are scheduled to become mandatory in WA from May next year and are also being introduced in NSW and Victoria, a move expected to see PEXA’s transactions grow significantly.

Mr Boyle dismissed arguments that the move to electronic settlements handed PEXA a monopoly, saying once the changes came into force and the volume of electronic property transfers increased, other providers would emerge in the market to provide competition.

AICWA has stated the criteria under which it would accept mandating at: 

https://www.aicwa.com.au/news/criteria-acceptance-mandating

Read ABC News reporting on the issue at:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-11/e-conveyancing-to-hit-wa-buyers-and-sellers/9139756

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-07/concern-over-more-cost-for-electronic-conveyancing/9127814

 

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