NSW Parliament approves historic Electronic Conveyancing reforms

NSW Parliament approves historic Electronic Conveyancing reforms

Consumers and industry across Australia will benefit from a more level playing field and competitive electronic conveyancing system, thanks to the Electronic Conveyancing (Adoption of National Law) Amendment Bill 2022 being approved by NSW Parliament.

The legislation amended the Electronic Conveyancing National Law (the ECNL), to introduce a requirement for Electronic Lodgment Network Operators (ELNOs) to interoperate.

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

Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government Victor Dominello said the changes mean ELNOs would be required to work together to support customers anywhere across Australia.

“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,” Minister Dominello said.

“This is an historic and important reform. Mandating interoperability is expected to deliver net benefits of $83.6 million nationally as a result of reduced prices and time and cost savings delivered by a competitive eConveyancing market.

“This reform will result in more choice and fairer prices for customers and greater efficiencies in the property and financial sector.

“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.

“I’d like to thank stakeholders, including the Law Council of Australia, the Australian Institute of Conveyancers, the Australian Banking Association, financial institutions, Electronic Lodgment Network Operators, and the ACCC, who have all played a critical part in these reforms.”

Key amendments include:

  • The mandate for all ELNOs to interoperate with each other;
  • Expansion of the Registrar’s powers to make operating requirements that will specify matters that must be included in interoperability agreements – so that important consumer protections are included;
  • Allow Registrars to require ELNOs to participate in an industry code which will provide effective regulation of the financial component of an eConveyancing transaction;
  • Extend the statutory reliance regime for digital signatures to cover interoperable dealings; and
  • Allow Registrars to exchange information about compliance with ECNL requirements.

Since 2019, the NSW Government has mandated the use of eConveyancing to streamline the conveyancing process for buyers and sellers; lawyers and conveyancers; and financial institutions.

“By opening up the market and encouraging competition, we are setting up eConveyancing for success into the future that will deliver better outcomes for consumers and businesses,” Minister Dominello added.