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Connexus : Issue 42
fter years of anticipation and some false starts, the rolling out of Australia’s frst electronic conveyancing system is set to begin before the middle of the year. Property Exchange Australia (PEXA) is to be delivered over two main releases, says Brenton Pike, chairman of the Australian Registrars' National Electronic Conveyancing Council. “The initial release begins this fnancial year, is on schedule, and involves the Victorian land registry and a single fnancial institution,” says Pike. "This release will also include other land registries and fnancial institutions on a rolling implementation, which should be completed by the end of this year.” The initial release of the system will be limited to standalone mortgages, standalone discharges and refnancing. The second release, expected to be implemented by mid-2014, will include caveats, transfers, notices and settlements. Marcus Price, chief executive of National e-Conveyancing Development Limited, says the system will "do to land transactions what the ASX did to share transactions”. However, industry take-up of the system could take several years. "The banks are all going to convert electronically as quickly as they can," says Price, "but, of course, it requires solicitors and conveyancers to convert to electronic as well.” Greater e ciencies The benefts of e-conveyancing for the Australian mutual sector are substantial, says Pike. "The move to online processing allows for greater effciencies in workfow, reduces the overall time it takes to establish the required documentation and allows for online communication with your clients. Practical benefts include the removal of cheques and associated costs, and the need to physically attend a settlement.” Up to 30 per cent of property transactions cur rently fail in the settlement room due to errors -- a situation he says will be avoided through e- conveyancing. "Rework means that someone has to go back to a bank or practitioner and get something else done and come back in half an hour. It’s all that mucking around. "The cost implications of rework is really what the [fnancial institutions] will get to avoid. Because, electronically, we can check whether everything is going to be lodged or not beforehand so there are no errors.” Price, who estimates that the system could save the industry $240 million a year, denies that National e-Conveyancing Development Limited will become a monopoly player. "We certainly won't be trying to automate every transaction. There will always be the paper option,” he says. "The market is completely open to anyone else who wants to become an e-conveyancing operator if they wish. Obviously, being frst, we may well have the largest market share, but monopoly may be too strong a word.” Although there has been cynicism about whether e-conveyancing would get off the ground, Price says it is defnitely coming “and it’s going to beneft you”. The idea has been about for a very long time, with efforts beginning in the early 2000s and a couple of false starts, he says. “We have the beneft of all the previous work that has gone on. We were able to stand on the shoulders of others, in a way, and recover all the bits and pieces that had been done.” Legislation is being enacted for e-conveyancing one state and territory at a time and is expected to be in place within the next six months. E-conveyancing can take place in each jurisdiction only after the legislation has been passed. Carolyn Boyd is a freelance writer. As many as 30 per cent of settlements fail because of errors and many hope that e-conveyancing will help avoid problems. Speedier settlements Electronic conveyancing is on its way at last, potentially with substantial benefits for mutuals. BY CAROLYN BOYD For more, visit www.arnecc.gov.au or www.necd.com.au www.abacus.org.au 39