Biosecurity register searches – practice change

The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has changed its policy regarding the form of consent it requires to undertake searches of biosecurity registers.

This impacts practitioners acting for purchasers of rural land.

The change now requires provision of a specific ‘Permission to Release Property Information’ form, which has been signed by the owner of the property, before the department will undertake a register search. The form is required in addition to a complete and fully executed copy of the sale contract.

Previously, the department was prepared to undertake the search on the basis of a clause within a sale contract authorising the department to release information to the purchaser (or the purchaser’s solicitors). Such a clause is commonly included in sale contracts for rural land.

To ensure that searches can be undertaken, practitioners should consider including a special condition in sale contracts for rural land requiring the purchaser to sign the ‘Permission to Release Property Information’ form (which could be annexed to the contract) contemporaneously with signing the contract.

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