26 September 2023

Registrar’s new powers to protect home buyers

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The Office of the Registrar General is to have its powers expanded to provide more choice and fairer prices for customers in the property and financial sector.

Announced by Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government, Victor Dominello, the changes follow the passing of the Electronic Conveyancing (Adoption of National Law) Amendment Bill 2022.

In a statement the Registrar Office said electronic conveyancing (eConveyancing) was an efficient, accurate and secure way of conducting the settlement and lodgement stages of a conveyancing transaction.

“It replaces many of the paper and manual processes traditionally involved in property transactions,” the Office said.

“eConveyancing allows lawyers, conveyancers and financial institutions to interact and transact together online,” it said.

Mr Dominello said the Bill amended the Electronic Conveyancing National Law (ECNL), to introduce a requirement for Electronic Lodgement Network Operators (ELNOs) to interoperate.

He said the changes meant ELNOs would be required to work together to support customers anywhere across Australia.

“Interoperability will promote competition in the ELNO market, encouraging innovation and efficiency in land transactions and provide choice for consumers,” Mr Dominello said.

“Before these changes, competing ELNO systems did not ‘interoperate’, so buyers, sellers and banks needed to use the same operator to interact with each other which resulted in unbalanced competition between providers,” he said.

“This is an historic and important reform.”

Mr Dominello said the reform would result in more choice and fairer prices for customers, as well as greater efficiencies in the property and financial sector.

The Minister said the Bill also expanded the Registrar’s powers to make requirements for specified matters that must be included in interoperability agreements, “so that important consumer protections are included”

He said the expanded powers would also allow the Registrar to require ELNOs to participate in an industry code.

“[This] will provide effective regulation of the financial component of an eConveyancing transaction,” Mr Dominello said.

“NSW is working hand in hand with all other States and Territories to ensure Governments across Australia are taking steps to make the conveyancing process more efficient and remains secure, with checks and balances to protect landowners and those purchasing property against fraud.”

He thanked the Law Council of Australia, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Australian Institute of Conveyancers, the Australian Banking Association, financial institutions, and ELNOs for the part they played in the reforms.

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