Queensland firms are settling electronically – though it’s not mandated. Here’s why

When e-settlements first came into the Australian legal and conveyancing scene in 2010, the expectation was that this would present practitioners with opportunities for time and cost savings.

Deloitte’s 2018 report sharing the ‘Impacts of e-Conveyancing on the conveyancing industry’, found that the desire to save time came in many forms including time spent on the phone to book a settlement, time editing documents and travel time. Specifically, Deloitte found that an average of 3.7 hours were saved by a practitioner nationally if they chose electronic lodgments and settlements.

But at what price?

While the cost savings were projected to be $3 million in the 2016-2017 financial year, Deloitte found that only 2% of practitioners were completing property transactions electronically. At that time, with no mandates in place, the appetite for change was low because of the need to learn new systems, upskill resources and transition away from traditional processes: The lack of ongoing exposure to the electronic platform means that efficiency gains from mastering the systems are not fully realised…”

Since then, the Australian legal and conveyancing industry has made good progress with technology adoption in conveyancing. Key drivers have been the obligation to meet e-conveyancing mandates, settlement efficiency gains and, in more recent times, to overcome COVID-19lockdown restrictions.

Due to the introduction of onerous electronic processes, many firms we speak with have chosen to scale back or completely cease handling property conveyancing matters to focus on other areas of law. This is largely due to the hurdles of learning new e-settlement systems and a lack of access to useful training. Some have also reported that the COVID pandemic caused them to reduce their staff headcount and there is a lack of trained people in firms who can complete the administrative tasks required for an e-settlement.

With this knowledge, InfoTrack conducted a settlements and Electronic Lodgment Network (ELN) interoperability survey in July 2021. By taking the temperature of the legal and conveyancing profession regarding technology and choice, we are able to report on the current appetite for e-settlements and ELN interoperability.

InfoTrack surveyed a national sample of lawyers and conveyancers. Here is a snapshot of some of the findings:

The majority of Australian firms which conduct conveyancing matters complete their settlements electronically.

93% of firms surveyed said they conduct e-settlements. Interestingly, 85% of Queensland responders said they do conduct e-settlements, despite it not being mandated in their state. Nationally, there were four clear reasons as to why surveyed lawyers and conveyancers prefer to settle electronically:

Those who don’t complete e-settlements are looking for training support or more expertise.

For those who don’t complete e-settlements, we asked what would encourage them to shift to digital processes. Responses were largely around expertise. Namely, adding more staff to the firm or being able to outsource e-settlements.

For those firms, outsourcing lodgments and settlements to SettleIT will reduce the load. SettleIT is a flexible solution that allows law firms and conveyancers to outsource the lodgment of registry documents and settlements – both electronic and manual. Using SettleIT means there is no need for a firm to register with or be trained to use ELN platforms.

Through our survey, InfoTrack has identified that firms are looking for more training to support them to conduct e-settlements and use an ELN. InfoTrack has released a whitepaper which outlines in more detail the full results of the survey, including the current appetite for interoperable ELNs. The complimentary whitepaper, ‘Your guide to understanding the Australian settlements and Electronic Network (ELN) landscape’, is available for immediate download.

If you are looking to complete e-settlements but don’t have the expertise or don’t know where to start, the experienced team at SettleIT have an extensive knowledge of interstate matters and keep up to date with relevant mandates in all states.

InfoTrack’s suite of cloud-based products has been built for lawyers and conveyancers to use anywhere, at any time, ensuring their firms remain productive and efficient. As a trusted technology provider, InfoTrack is proud to support our clients during changing times by offering stability, expertise and innovative solutions to keep their firms moving forward.

Daniel Petrucci has been a Licensed Conveyancer for over 15 years working for top-tier law firms as well as smaller boutique firms. Within these firms he has held various roles across commercial and residential conveyancing, commercial banking & finance and intellectual property law.
In 2011, he joined the associated ATI Group of companies including LEAP and InfoTrack, where he has held several executive roles.
Daniel has a passion for property and conveyancing. He has combined this passion with his experience in delivering exceptional client service and has helped thousands of firms across Australia embrace technology to drive efficiencies and increase profits.

About InfoTrack

InfoTrack is the leading innovator in legal technology and pioneers of property conveyancing automation in Australia. We provide an integrated platform that enables our clients to find, analyse, organise and communicate information efficiently and effectively. InfoTrack has been at the forefront helping businesses through technology innovation for over 21 years and has a deep understanding of the legal and conveyancing industry with over 8000 legal clients across Australia.

This sponsored content article represents the views of the sponsor and does not necessarily reflect the views of Queensland Law Society

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