Queensland’s eConveyancing mandate will begin from 20 February 2023.
The new Land Title Regulation 2022 (the Regulation) has been made to mandate the electronic lodgement (eConveyancing) of required instruments for certain fee simple property transactions.
What must be lodged?
Under the Regulation, required instruments can only be digitally prepared, signed, settled, and lodged using an electronic lodgment network, unless exempted.
The required instruments mandated include transfers, mortgages, caveats (new, withdrawal), priority notices, and transmission by death.
Under the transitional provisions, the transaction can still be ‘paper lodged’ if a property transaction has been executed by a party before the mandatory commencement date (see section 6 of the Regulation).
As the mandate does not commence until 20 February 2023, the Department of Resources intends this timing to allow the portion of the conveyancing sector which is not already using eConveyancing to update administrative processes and systems.
Titles Queensland encourages practitioners to subscribe to the Titles Alert emails for updates as the mandate approaches.
The road to a Queensland eConveyancing mandate
With the regulation taking effect in February 2023, it comes 10 years after voluntary eConveyancing was introduced in Queensland under the Electronic Conveyancing National Law (Queensland) Act 2013.
QLS supported the proposed eConveyancing mandate when consulted about the ‘Proposed regulation to mandate eConveyancing in Queensland: Consultation Paper’ (consultation paper) by the Department of Resources.
In its submission responding to the consultation paper, QLS emphasised the importance of clearly defining the scope of the mandate and the relevant exemptions in order to promote certainty for participants in the industry.
Since the introduction of voluntary eConveyancing, Queensland has observed an organic uptake of eConveyancing, with 70% of all relevant titling transactions finalised through eConveyancing systems.1
Earlier this year, QLS conducted its own member survey, which sought feedback on the issues raised in the consultation paper.2 Consistent with the department’s observations, the survey results indicated that:3
- 84% of survey respondents use e-conveyancing to settle property transactions
- 70% of survey respondents support the eConveyancing mandate.
Further, the survey results indicate that 72% of respondents are prepared for the mandate now, whereas 7.6% need six months, 6.6% need 12 months, and 13.7% need more than 12 months.
The organic uptake of eConveyancing in Queensland is likely a reflection of the numerous benefits associated with eConveyancing, including administrative efficiencies, enhanced security and accuracy, and reduced costs for parties.4
The QLS submission acknowledged the considerable benefits associated with eConveyancing and its subsequent uptake in Queensland, whilst also reflecting the broad support for a mandate amongst the profession. The submission also highlights a number of practical and operational issues associated with the mandate, which were identified in the member survey.
QLS has long advocated for the ability to pay transfer duty directly to the Queensland Revenue Office (QRO) through an electronic lodgement network operator (ELNO). We note this functionality is currently available in all other jurisdictions, except Queensland.
The practical effect is that legal practitioners must separately pay the duty to QRO after the electronic settlement process has been completed. Consequently, practitioners cannot transition the entire conveyancing process into a fully digital and online settlement process, which contributes to delay.
QLS has strongly recommended that this be revisited as part of the mandate discussions, to ensure participants in the industry can streamline their processes and ultimately reduce delay.
Despite these concerns, QLS supports the implementation of the eConveyancing mandate, given the organic uptake in eConveyancing in Queensland in recent years. Further, we note that eConveyancing mandates have been introduced in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. The eConveyancing mandate in Queensland brings Queensland in line with a majority of Australian jurisdictions.
Wendy Devine QLS Principal Policy Solicitor, Yale Hudson-Flux is a graduate solicitor at QLS.
1 Proposed regulation to mandate eConveyancing in Queensland: Consultation paper, Department of Resources, March 2022, see ‘Overview’.
2 QLS Proctor, QLS members invited to take survey on mandatory eConveyancing, (March 2022).
3 The survey received 256 responses.
4 Queensland Government, Proposed regulation to mandate eConveyancing in Queensland: Consultation Paper(March 2022) see ‘Overview’.