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E-conveyancingBy Joanne Grant, Makinson d’Apice, Lawyers, Sydney.

The transition to electronic conveyancing in NSW is certainly speeding up.

On 28 February 2017 the NSW Government announced its commitment to a detailed timetable for a full transition to electronic conveyancing in NSW by July 2019, following an extensive industry consultation process.

Over the last few years we have seen a slow introduction of electronic property settlements and transactions in NSW.  However, as of 1 March 2017 certain transactions must be conducted electronically and by 1 July 2019 we will have a completely paperless system in NSW.

The accelerated transition is being implemented in two stages:

Stage 1

On and from 1 March 2017 major financial institutions are required to lodge certain mortgages and discharges of mortgage electronically and will be issued with ‘e-Titles’ rather than paper Certificates of Title.

Stage 2

By 1 July 2019 all standard property transactions in NSW will be conducted electronically and all paper Certificates of Title will be cancelled and replaced with e-Titles.

An initiative of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), electronic conveyancing or “e-Conveyancing” is a wholly electronic method of effecting a conveyancing transaction intended to operate nationally.  It allows for the relevant parties to a conveyance, such as lawyers, licensed conveyancers and financial institutions, to transact online.

The movement to e-Conveyancing aims to minimise the costs associated with conveyancing and to decrease the stress that is involved in the paper process by increasing transparency between the parties.  Each transaction is recorded in real time meaning that each party is able to check the progress of the conveyance at each stage.

PEXA (Property Exchange Australia Limited) is the national platform that facilitates each electronic transaction.  Electronic conveyancing via PEXA became available for use on 10 November 2014 with the first successful electronic property exchange in NSW on that date.  According to PEXA, there are 3,606 participants currently using the network with 103,557 completed transactions in NSW.

Pursuant to the Electronic Conveyancing National Law (ENCL), certain rules and regulations must be adhered to in order to be able to participate on PEXA. The ENCL requires that the identity of users must be officially verified, a participation agreement must be executed and the user must be assigned a digital signing certificate, before the participant can engage with the platform.

Currently practitioners have the option of continuing with the current paper process or moving to the electronic method.  Though the NSW Government’s plan to phase out paper based conveyances by 2019 and similar intentions in Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia demonstrates a clear intention for e-conveyancing to be officiated as the primary practice of transacting property in Australia the very near future.

Further information in relation to the e-conveyancing reforms and recently announced transition timetable for NSW may be found at http://www.lpi.nsw.gov.au/registrar_general/econveyancing_reforms.

Contact the author directly by email or by telephone.

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