On 28 February 2017, the NSW Government set out a detailed timetable to transform NSW into, what it hopes to be, the world’s most efficient and secure place to buy and sell property electronically. Almost a year on from that announcement, it is high time legal practitioners and their clients became aware of the changes necessary to accommodate this transition and familiarise themselves with some key terminology moving forward.
‘Electronic conveyancing’, or eConveyancing as it is shortened to, refers to the conveyancing transaction where parties, including their financiers, participate in an electronic workspace to settle the conveyance. Of course, not all the conveyancing process is handled electronically but by 1 July 2019, any conveyancing transaction that can be lodged electronically will be required to be lodged electronically.
Moving forward, parties are likely to hear the term ‘PEXA’ much more commonly. PEXA stands for Property Exchange Australia Limited and was formed in 2010 to fulfil the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) initiative to deliver a single, national eConveyancing solution to the Australian property industry. Since its formation, PEXA provides and manages the electronic workspaces used for eConveyancing.
Through PEXA, parties to the electronic workspace:
- Agree on the settlement date and time;
- Agree on how the balance of the purchase money and disbursements are to be disbursed;
- Prepare and electronically sign registry instruments (e.g. transfer, mortgage, discharge/release of mortgage; and
- Electronically lodge the registry instruments with the NSW Land Registry Services.
For legal representatives to participate in PEXA, they are required to first obtain written authorisation from their client – called ‘Client Authorisation’. This is a standard form in which a client expressly authorises the:
- signing of documents on their behalf;
- lodgement of registry instruments for registration;
- financial settlement of the conveyance; and
- anything else necessary to complete the transaction.
Additionally, eConveyancing requires legal representatives to take reasonable steps to identify their clients by ‘Verification of Identity’ (or ‘VOI’) check. Generally, this is an easy process which requires meeting with your legal representative face-to-face and providing them with your driver’s licence and passport, certified copies of which they keep on file. Your legal representative can advise you further of the requirements, should you not be able to attend face-to-face or not have the necessary documents.
Finally, paper certificates of title will become thing of the past and be replaced with ‘electronic Certificate of Titles’ or eCTs. Moving forward, the title register will simply record which party has the ‘Control of the Right to Deal’ (‘CoRD’) of the property, e.g. the owner of the property or, say, a bank and by 1 July 2019, all paper certificates of titles will be cancelled.
All in all, the move to eConveyancing will be challenging at first but, with every industry going through a digital transformation of some sort, it will ensure that both legal practitioners and their clients keep pace with the digital age. On 28 February 2017, the NSW Government set out a detailed timetable to transform NSW into, what it hopes to be, the world’s most efficient and secure place to buy and sell property electronically. Almost a year on from that announcement, it is high time legal practitioners and their clients became aware of the changes necessary to accommodate this transition and familiarise themselves with the some key terminology moving forward.