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Lawyers call for national property laws

Lawyers call for national property laws

Property and legal industry groups have come together to push for national uniform property laws.

Property and legal industry groups have come together to push for a national uniform property law.

Lawyers and property industry members have taken the lead in the debate about real property law reform, releasing its own draft Uniform Torrens Title Act for public comment .

The draft Uniform Torrens Title Act is the result of nearly a decade of commitment from members who now sit under the Property Law Reform Alliance (PLRA) banner.

The Law Council of Australia is behind the drive, and president Catherine Gale said reform towards harmonisation is long overdue.

PLRA chairman, Dr Stephen Pallavicini, said the draft Act shows that a leading practice property law system is within reach.

“In the absence of a commitment by Australian Governments to reforming land title legislation, industry took the first step to show them that it was possible,” Dr Pallavicini said.

Peter Verwer, CEO of the Property Council of Australia, said property law is a prime target for national reform.

“Streamlined property laws should be high on the COAG red-tape agenda … Industry has sent a clear message that reform is both necessary and possible,” Verwer said.

Verwer also highlighted the productivity and competition benefits likely to flow from the development of a single national system.

He said national consistency has the potential to reduce costs individuals and businesses involved in cross-border transactions. 

The Law Council said its Australian Property Law Group has been a "keen and active contributor" to the process of developing the draft model Act.

“The reform and harmonisation of these systems across all Australian states and territories will be a significant achievement," said Gale.

“The Law Council remains committed to the development of the model uniform legislation, and looks forward to being involved in a consultation process with state and territory governments and departments in the coming months."

The Act was drafted by Professor Peter Butt, of Sydney University, and drew on each jurisdiction’s existing system.

Pallavicini said the Act was developed in collaboration with professionals working in the jurisdictions. He said it represents the leading aspects of the various property law systems.

“There are surprisingly few areas of real disagreement between the jurisdictions." 

Dr Pallavicini said governments have shown an interest in the draft Act, and that the response from government has been "overwhelmingly positive”.

“The Federal Attorney-General’s Department in particular has been very supportive of the PLRA’s goals.”

Dr Pallavicini said that there is still a long way to go before a national system is implemented.

“Harmonised property law is a long term goal, but industry has shown that it is committed to staying the course,” he said.


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