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The New Queensland E-Conveyancing Process

What is the New Conveyancing Process in Queensland?

The new Queensland e-conveyancing law earmarks the changes that will take place late this year.

On the 17th  May 2013, the Queensland Government passed the Electronic Conveyancing National Law (ECNL). The law introduces reforms for real property land registration procedure through the use of an electronic platform. The use of an electronic platform will replace paper based documents with electronic files for quick and easy use. It will allow a person to digitally prepare and lodge a document directly with the Land Registry of Queensland.

This change is part of a larger, national shift in the legal conveyancing framework. It will ensure a transparent land registration process guided by uniform rules and a common platform. The system will continue to enforce the fundamental principles for land registration and will not change the indefeasibility of title principle of the Torrens Title system.

The E-conveyancing procedure and implementation

The new Queensland electronic registration process is expected to commence in  the second half of 2013 and will initially deal with transactions involving the registration and release of mortgages. Eventually the system will deal with all other property dealings including sale and transfer. Currently the system is expected to be fully operational come early 2014.

The e-conveyancing platform is called Property Exchange Australia or PEXA, and was developed by National E-Conveyancing Development Ltd (NECDL). NECDL is a company where the majority shares are owned by the Governments of Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia and the minority shares are held by Australia’s largest financial institutions.

The changes introduced by PEXA

PEXA is expected to provide a comfortable zone for all parties that are involved directly or indirectly in the process of conveyancing. These parties include the Titles Registries, Banking Institutions, Law Firms and/or private conveyancing firms. These parties will use one platform (PEXA) and will be governed by the same polices and rules.

PEXA will introduce changes in the following conveyancing areas:

  • Financial settlements
  • Client authorisation to subscriber to sign contracts
  • Digital signatures and verification process
  • Electronic fund transfer
  • Electronic lodgement of data in the Land Registry
  • Appeal
  • Interpretation
  • The Attribution Rule

However, the  changes will be implemented by phases. The first phase will comprise the financing aspect and how finances and financial institutions are dealt with. The second phase will deal with property identification, including transfers and conditions attached to the property.

Government agencies, offices and individuals will all work and interact with each other using PEXA environment to complete the requirements for title registration and transfer. Once all requirements are complied with, PEXA will lock the workspace, submit the documents to the land title registry and await confirmation of registration. Generally, all parties to a transaction will have access to the platform, but only the Subscribers can sign documents.

The parties to the Queensland e-conveyancing process

In addition to the relevant Government agencies, the key players in the electronic conveyancing platform include the CLIENT and the SUBSCRIBER:

  1. The CLIENT. The Client is the beneficiary for this platform. A Client may be the transferor or the transferee, the mortgagor or mortgagee, or the caveator in a real property transaction. The Client will have to find a “Subscriber” who has access to PEXA. The Client will then have to give authority to the Subscriber to sign electronic documents for registration, complete the financial settlement, and perform other tasks relevant to the transaction.
  1. The SUBSCRIBER. The Subscriber is a financial institution, legal practitioner or conveyancer that is authorised by a client to deal with the real property transaction. The subscriber will prepare and digitally sign documents on the Clients behalf.

A strong point of the law is the adoption of the Attribution Rule. This is to preserve the integrity and validity of documents submitted, signed and lodged in the platform. The document once signed by the Subscriber binds both the Subscriber and the Client (Attribution Rule). An attributed signature remains valid and subsisting and cannot be repudiated by the subscriber, unless, the document was not signed by the Subscriber and the flaw in the document was not due to the failure of the subscriber, its employees, or its agents.

The introduction of a modern system of conveyancing will increase the speed, efficiency and potentially lower the cost of conveyancing. The new system looks to be a welcome change to all parties involved in conveyancing.