The 6-week consultation on the proposed regulation to mandate eConveyancing in Queensland by early 2023 has now closed, with e-conveyancing set to be mandated in Queensland from February 20, 2023. Attwood Marshall Lawyers Property and Commercial Lawyer Aimee Turner takes a look at what this will mean for the state and how buyers and sellers will benefit from a consistent electronic property settlement experience.
The adoption of eConveyancing has been an incremental process since establishing the Electronic Conveyancing National Law in 2012. Queensland was an innovator in converting electronic titles, which it implemented in 1994. The state subsequently implemented the abolishment of paper certificates of title in 2019. However, the uptake of eConveyancing for property settlements in Queensland has been somewhat slower than in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, and Western Australia. These four states have mandated the use of eConveyancing for ‘mainstream’ property transactions, with exceptions applying to certain types of unusual dealings. While currently, parties to a settlement in Queensland have the choice to either settle electronically or utilise the traditional paper-based method, this is set to change.
Titles Queensland recently completed a six-week consultation period concerning proposed regulations to mandate the use of eConveyancing in Queensland. As a result, it is expected that from early 2023, eConveyancing will be compulsory in Queensland from 20 February 2023.
Industry professionals not already familiar with electronic conveyancing practices will now need to become familiar with the digital processes and platforms. It is essential to implement the appropriate systems and procedures, test and refine them, and be prepared and able to transact electronically as the state transitions to 100% eConveyancing.
Those working in the industry must adequately prepare themselves for the eConveyancing mandate prior to it coming into effect. Whilst there will be exemptions for some unusual and complex matters, the lodgement of the majority of mainstream property transactions will be required to occur electronically.
What is eConveyancing?
eConveyancing is the utilisation of a web-based platform to facilitate property transactions. The eConveyancing platform expedites the preparation, execution, and lodgement of land title documents and allows financial settlements to take place digitally via the electronic transfer of funds. There are currently two approved Electronic Lodgement Network Operators (ELNOs) in the market; Sympli and PEXA.
Benefits of eConveyancing
eConveyancing has significant benefits when compared to the outdated paper-based method. These include:
- Efficiency in administration: the preparation and lodgement of documents electronically can mitigate processing delays because lodgement with the pertinent title registry occurs immediately, and in most circumstances, confirmation of registration on the title occurs within 24 hours
- Accuracy: Title information generation and verification are activated upon creating a settlement workspace via the ELNO, minimising the risk of human error
- Convenience: the pandemic motivated many industry professionals to adopt eConveyancing to avoid the need for a physical meeting. These benefits continue to be enjoyed, with each party to a property transaction able to prepare documents and upload financial information remotely, then sign off digitally to watch the settlement occur in real-time
- Security and speed of payments: digital settlements enable funds to be transferred securely and immediately via EFT, diminishing the need to draw or exchange bank cheques and the 3-day clearance time for funds; and
- Bulk settlements: for property developers and financiers, eConveyancing services present additional benefits, allowing the preparation and settlement of multiple lots in a streamlined manner.
The benefit for foreign investors
Australian property lawyers can now facilitate multi-currency property transactions for overseas clients, thanks to a new collaboration between Send Payments and PEXA.
The collaboration provides a lower-cost, more efficient alternative to the traditional international funds transfer services offered by banks.
“Settling digitally enables industry to support their clients anywhere, anytime. And thanks to this new collaboration with Send Payments, a key friction point, the transfer of funds overseas, has been addressed – further enhancing the property buying and selling experience for consumers,” said Lisa Dowie, PEXA Chief Customer Officer.
Although there are clear benefits associated with both the use and proposed mandated use of eConveyancing, there are also some limitations, including:
- Additional fees: ELNOs impose fees for the use of their platform
- Classes of documents: the mandate will capture certain classes of documents and may not apply to others, such as state leasehold and water allocations.
- Mistake or fraud: there is the possibility for mistake or fraud in eConveyancing, as there is for any transaction, including paper settlements. However, experienced legal assistance can minimise risk by implementing proper safeguards such as verbal confirmation of account details. PEXA offers their PEXA Residential Seller Guarantee to protect sellers in the event of certain kinds of fraud. Where the Guarantee applies, the seller has the option to make a claim against PEXA rather than seeking to recover any loss by alternative means
- Technological issues: as with any online system, technological issues and outages can cause delays to settlements. Additionally, there are risks relating to malicious conduct; and
- Reduced flexibility: eConveyancing systems require settlements to have occurred by specified cut-off times in each jurisdiction, which can change during periods of daylight savings time. For example, to accommodate a party in NSW during daylight savings time, settlements in Queensland must be complete by 4pm on the relevant business day.
Attwood Marshall Lawyers – delivering fast and stress-free property transactions
At Attwood Marshall Lawyers, we believe in doing everything possible to ensure seamless property transactions. Our Property and Commercial department are extremely experienced using the PEXA platform, having settled thousands of electronic transactions since the inception of e-conveyancing in 2014.
As a firm that prioritises innovation to ensure our clients receive the best customer service experience possible, we are pleased to see Queensland aligning with other states and territories in this space.
We understand that buying and selling property can be some of the most stressful times in people’s lives, and we aim to take the stress out of the event so that people can simply enjoy their new property and move on with their life.
If you would like further information on our property and conveyancing services, please contact our Property and Commercial Department Manager Jess Kimpton on direct line 07 5506 8214, email firstname.lastname@example.org or mobile 0432 857 300.
Our Property and Commercial Lawyers are available for appointments at our Coolangatta, Kingscliff, Robina Town Centre, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne offices. If you need assistance outside standard business hours, our Robina Town Centre office is open Thursday evenings until 9pm and Saturday mornings until 12noon.