A national electronic conveyancing system is one step closer after the formation of a NSW, Queensland and Victorian Government-run company to develop and operate the new system, which is expected to be rolled out by the end of 2011.
The new entity, National E-Conveyancing Development Ltd (NECSL), has been formed with a total commitment of $5 million from the three states, though it is expected that other states and territories will contribute as the system develops.
When operational, the e-conveyancing system (NECS) will allow the settlement of property transactions, the lodging of instruments with land registries, and the meeting of associated duty and tax obligations electronically, Australia-wide.
Under the current regime, every state and territory has their own system of paper-based processes and procedures, based on what the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) admits is an "antiquated system of paper-shuffling".
For the first time, the tri-state initiative has the joint support of peak industry bodies the Law Council of Australia and the Australian Bankers Association (ABA), after a round of industry consultations which began in September 2009.
New Law Council president Glenn Ferguson said the formation of the new company marks "a critical step" in the development of a national system, one which he said will "benefit clients and the economy". "Enabling a lawyer in one state to conduct a property conveyance in another, electronically, has been one of the Law Council's aims throughout its involvement in the development of NECS," Ferguson said.
The Law Council will have a seat on the board of the newly created NECSL, with property lawyer and past president of the Law Society of NSW John McIntyre nominated for the post.
An independent study by KPMG has estimated the new system will result in an average cost saving of $170 per sale or refinancing transaction in NSW, and an estimated annual saving of $49.8 million in conveyancing costs across the state.
Proponents of the national scheme say lawyers and law firms will benefit from increased efficiencies in property transactions and conveyancing.
- Ben Abbott