The Queensland Treasurer, Andrew Fraser, has confirmed that the state government will not allow licensed conveyancers to operate in Queensland.
The Treasurer said, “…the Queensland government previously considered whether to licence conveyancers as part of the National Competition Policy Review of the Legal Profession Legislation. It was decided not to licence conveyancers in Queensland and not to allow licensed conveyancers from other jurisdictions to operate in the state.”
The Government’s decision has ramifications for licensed conveyancers who operate from New South Wales conducting or acting on behalf of clients in Queensland conveyancing transactions. This subject has been discussed at some length previously when the Australian Institute of Conveyancers warned its members that they may not be covered by professional indemnity insurance if conveyancers acted in Queensland transactions.
The latest position of the government is sure to ignite the usual debate about the shortfalls of using a conveyancer as opposed to lawyers. Many consumers feel that conveyancing work is merely “paperwork” which can be done by conveyancers more cheaply. The reality is that people are usually making the largest investment of their lives in purchasing and selling their property. It would seem prudent to obtain proper legal advice and have a lawyer act on your behalf in relation to this transaction. Consumers appear to be prepared to risk having the transaction done properly for the sake of a couple of hundred dollars.
There are several licensed conveyancers who operate on the New South Wales side of the border and continue to carry out Queensland conveyancing transactions. No doubt these matters will be referred to the Legal Services Commission in Queensland and/or the Department of Fair Trading. It appears there is also some doubt as to whether licensed conveyancers’ professional indemnity insurance will cover them for operating in Queensland, given that the state government refuses to ratify their credentials or their ability to legally operate within the state.
This also raises important issues for real estate agents who refer their clients to licensed conveyancers for Queensland property transactions. If a referral is made to a licensed conveyancer by the real estate agent, and a mistake is made by the conveyancer resulting in a claim for damages being made by the client, it is possible that the clients will sue the real estate agent (particularly if the licensed conveyancer does not have professional indemnity insurance because of the issues raised above).