Moving forward with e-Conveyancing in the ACT

e-Conveyancing in the ACT looks to be a step closer following recent Legislative changes.  Amendments introduced by the ACT Government pursuant to the Electronic Conveyancing National Law (ACT) Act 2020 (ACT) and the Land Titles (Electronic Conveyancing) Legislation Amendment Act 2020 (ACT) are set to commence on 1 June 2020. But what do these changes mean? And will the ACT (finally) join NSW and the other States in conveying real estate electronically?

There are two fundamental changes:

  1. The first is the introduction of a method or framework to facilitate the possible introduction of e-conveyancing in the ACT.
  2. The second, whilst preserving the central features of the ACT land titling and registration within the Territory, is the introduction of new processes to reduce paper-based registration and provide a greater scope for use of electronic registrations.

Together the legislative provisions provide a choice within the territory to allow fore-conveyancing.

More specifically, the changes:

  1. Allow for the introduction of an electronic lodgement network operator as part of the electronic conveyance process. Lawyers and financial institutions will need to become a subscriber to undertake an e-conveyance or electronic lodgement;
  2. Introduce restrictions on the creation or alteration of interests on the land titles register without proper verification of relevant party’s identity and authority. In practice both paper and electronic lodgements are required to adhere to tougher compliance requirements; and
  3. Shift the onus of certification on solicitors, conveyancers, and financial institutions (if applicable). These certifications are detailed precisely in the new legislative framework, but in a nutshell they include:
    1. Verification of identity;
    2. Completion of client authorisation forms; and
    3. Retaining supporting evidence for the authority to deal with the property the subject of the transaction.

As the land titles register is already kept electronically it follows that lodgements should also occur electronically. Stakeholders suggest that moving to an electronic registration and titling system will help protect against fraudulent activities.

It is clear the Territory is endeavouring to keep pace with modern property practices but is yet to fully transition to a platform allowing for electronic conveyancing to occur. The Territory has the legal framework in place and the introduction of an electronic lodgement network is what is now needed.

For assistance with your conveyancing and real estate matters, contact the Real Estate team at BAL Lawyers.