In brief: Proposed changes to the Conveyancing Act pave the way for electronic leasing
The NSW Government has introduced into Parliament proposed amendments to the Conveyancing Act 1919 (NSW) (the Act) to further accommodate electronic property transactions. One of the objects of the Conveyancing Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 is to support the transition to paperless property transactions, by removing existing impediments to electronic land transactions.
The Bill has passed the stage of first reading and is now in the process of second reading in Parliament. Among other things, the Bill provides for the following key issues:
clarifications regarding electronic form contracts relating to land under the Real Property Act 1900 (NSW). While clarifications rather than significant changes, if passed such clarifications are likely to result in a rapid acceleration in the practice of online conveyancing; and
deeds would be able to be electronically signed and attested. It is important to note this will include leases. Following the enactment of the Bill, we would expect further consequential amendments to be made to the Registrar-General's Guidelines and the Lodgement Rules (for example, so that an original hard copy lease is not required to be presented to NSW Land Registry Services in order for the lease to be in registrable form).
A key change regarding the second point above is a proposed new section 38A, as follows:
 Section 38A
Insert after section 38:
38A Electronic form deeds
A deed may be created in electronic form and electronically signed and attested in accordance with this Part.
Such changes to the Act may seem relatively minor, however in practice these changes will have a significant impact over time. The changes pave the way for the development of electronic-based leasing.
There are further amendments which affect disclosure obligations under off-the-plan contracts, however these will be addressed in a forthcoming article. Some key points include:
the introduction of a disclosure statement requirement, to be given to a purchaser before the contract is signed by the purchaser;
an obligation on the vendor to serve on the purchaser (at least 21 days before completion) a formal notice if there are changes to what was contained in the disclosure statement; and
a right for the purchaser to rescind the contract due to such changes, in certain circumstances.
We will continue to monitor the process of the Bill and provide a further update in due course.
This is commentary published by Colin Biggers & Paisley for general information purposes only. This should not be relied on as specific advice. You should seek your own legal and other advice for any question, or for any specific situation or proposal, before making any final decision. The content also is subject to change. A person listed may not be admitted as a lawyer in all States and Territories. © Colin Biggers & Paisley, Australia 2020.