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COVID-19: Attending conveyancing settlements

Greater Brisbane will go into lockdown for three days (6pm tonight, Friday 8 January, until 6pm Monday 11 January), while contact tracers work to ensure the UK strain of COVID-19 is not circulating in the community. Greater Brisbane includes Moreton Bay, Brisbane City, Ipswich city, Redland city, Logan City.

Further detail on what areas are considered greater Brisbane can be accessed here. It is important to note that currently, these measures only apply to greater Brisbane and obligations outside the area of greater Brisbane are not affected.

Once the most up to date public health directions are published, we will advise the profession of the effect of these directions on settlements.

The Titles Office continues to receive documents. The Office of State Revenue is maintaining usual services. Social distancing and mask wearing requirements for businesses do not prevent settlements from occurring. Settlements are not restricted by the Restrictions on Businesses, Activities and Undertakings Direction (No. 12) or the Movement and Gathering Direction (No. 7).

Lawyers should consider closely the provisions of any relevant contracts of sale to be satisfied that any delay or force majeure clauses have in fact been triggered by the current state of events. This includes understanding the consequences of the current directives issued by Government regarding the requirement to wear masks, practise social distancing and other health protection measures. For Lexon insured practices, see Lexon’s alert 7 of 19/20 dealing with Suspension of Time concepts in the REIQ contract.

At this time it is also important for solicitors to be mindful that they have an obligation to represent clients with contracts on foot and have a variety of alternative methods available to them to bring about settlements such as settlement agents, other firms as town agents, electronic conveyancing, settlement intermediaries and electronic lodgement with the Titles Office. 

If a solicitor considers that there are circumstances where it is not possible for them to continue to represent a client, please contact the QLS Ethics and Practice Centre for guidance as to the way in which they should move forward with the client matter.

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