THE COUNCIL of Australian Governments (COAG) has resolved to establish a national electronic e-conveyancing system, which will be in operation by 2010.
The decision to go ahead with the project required the agreement of all states and territories, and will enable all consumers from across Australia to use the same electronic platform to settle all property transactions. Users will also be able to lodge instruments with land registries and pay associated duties and taxes electronically.
The president of the Law Society of NSW, Hugh Macken, says the project has been on the agenda for more than two years, and various parties in the legal profession — including the Law Society — have been pushing for it to get off the ground.
Another advocate for the project, the president-elect of the Law Council of Australia, John Corcoran, described it as a “positive and long sought-after breakthrough in the legal profession campaign to see a seamless, national electronic conveyancing system implemented in Australia”.
Macken believes that a unified conveyancing system will deliver a range of cost benefits.
“It will reduce costs from the provision of professional services by lawyers and conveyancers, it will reduce the costs associated with creation and filing of mortgages, and the banks will charge less,” he said.
In a joint statement, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Lindsay Tanner, said industry groups had estimated the savings at $250 million a year.
Macken also believes the project will bring a host of other benefits, including improving the efficiency and safety of transactions.
“It will reduce the possibility of claims against professional indemnity insurers,” he said. “It will greatly assist in reducing the prospects of fraud being undertaken, as the security with documentation will be enhanced by doing away with the paper trail.”
COAG has agreed that an “e-conveyancing entity” will be established, comprising directors with diverse commercial experience as well as those with specific knowledge of state and territory conveyancing processes.
It would also consider the feasibility of using Austalia’s only existing e-conveyancing system, Victoria’s ECV, as the underlying software for the national system.