Electronic conveyancing (eConveyancing) is a more 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.
What is eConveyancing?
Electronic Conveyancing allows practitioners and financial institutions to lodge and settle conveyancing transactions in an electronic workspace provided by an Electronic Lodgement Network Operator (ELNO). This electronic platform enables parties to:
- collect transaction information and have it checked and verified for completeness and compliance
- prepare instruments and reports to register changes in property ownership and interests
- settle financial transactions, including payment of duties, taxes and disbursements
- comply with the tax and duty requirements of revenue offices
- lodge instruments with the Lands Titles Office and receive confirmation of their lodgement and registration.
Dealings currently able to be lodged electronically
Not all titles and document types are supported in Electronic Lodgement Networks (ELNs). Eligible transactions that can be lodged through the approved ELNOs are;
Electronic lodgement volumes
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreement
The Australian Registrars' National Electronic Conveyancing Council (ARNECC)
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) is the peak intergovernmental forum in Australia.
COAG was established in 1992. Its role is to manage matters of national significance or matters that need co-ordinated action by all Australian governments.
COAG's agenda is broad-ranging and focusses on improving the current and future wellbeing of all Australians.
COAG usually meets twice a year. However, it will meet when needed and at times it has met up to four times in a year. COAG may also settle issues out-of-session by correspondence.
The outcomes of COAG meetings are contained in communiques published at the end of each meeting. Where formal agreements are reached, these may be embodied in intergovernmental agreements, including National Agreements and National Partnership Agreements.
The basis of the regulatory framework for National Electronic Conveyancing in Australia is an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) entered into in 2011 by the governments of the six States and the Northern Territory and known as the Electronic Conveyancing National Law Agreement.
The IGA establishes ARNECC and sets out its objectives on behalf of the Registrars in each participating State and Territory as;
The Australian Registrars' National Electronic Conveyancing Council (ARNECC) is the body established to facilitate the implementation and ongoing management of the regulatory framework for electronic conveyancing of real property in Australia.
ARNECC is constituted under an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) among the State and Territory Governments. ARNECC membership comprises the Land Titles Registrars (or their nominee) from each Australian State and Territory that has entered into the IGA.
The principal functions of ARNECC are to:
For further information on ARNECC, or to raise any policy or regulatory issue concerning electronic conveyancing, please contact ARNECC.
The principal pieces of legislation for eConveyancing in SA are the
Real Property Act 1886 (RPA) note – the Real Property (Electronic Conveyancing) Amendment Act 2016 commenced on 4 July 2016, introducing significant changes to the existing conveyancing requirements and paving the way for eConveyancing in SA.
Our role in eConveyancing
South Australia operates under the principles of the Torrens title system of land title registration and has historically transacted in paper. Technological advancements and the need to increase efficiencies within the financial and legal sectors has seen a movement towards electronic systems and electronic registers.
The Office of the Registrar-General (ORG) is represented on State and National committees, including ARNECC, the Australian Registrars Working Group, the Banking and Conveyancing Stakeholder Group, and the Land Registry Working Group.
Participation with the various working groups together with industry and stakeholder consultation is integral to the Registrar-Generals role in ensuring compliance with the legislation set out within the Real Property Act 1886 and the Electronic Conveyancing National Law (South Australia) Act 2013 (ECNL). The Registrar-General also has responsibility in upholding the integrity of the titles register in respect to the use of State data by the service provider (Land Services SA), and electronic lodgement network operators (ELNO).
Currently two ELNOs are operating in South Australia., Property Exchange Australia Ltd (PEXA) and Sympli Australia Pty Ltd (Sympli), with potential applications for other ELNOs to join the electronic conveyancing market. The Registrar-General plays an important role under the ECNL in approving an ELNO to provide and operate an Electronic Lodgement Network.
There are a number of safeguards to ensure the data security and safety of eConveyancing.
The increasing incidence of identity theft and associated fraud, including mortgage fraud, means that all parties to land transactions and their agents must exercise due diligence in verifying the identity of persons claiming a right to deal in land. Processes such as verification of identity, right to deal and client authorisation are aimed at limiting the impact of fraud and increasing security.
Practitioners should be careful not to provide banking details via email for transmission of settlement sums to reduce the incidence of cyber fraud attacks.
More information about identity theft and strategies for limiting its impact is available from:
- the Australian Crime Commission,
- the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner,
- the website Protect Your Financial Identity established by the Australian Bankers’ Association, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission and the Australian High Tech Crime Centre.
Transitioning to eConveyancing
Many conveyancers and most financial institutions have already started lodging electronically. If you haven't yet done so, please find below some steps to assist you in getting started.
Step one: Familiarise yourself with the SA model participation rules to determine your eligibility to become a subscriber.
For information on model participation rules and guidance notes visit:
Under the Electronic Conveyancing National Law, Subscribers are required to comply with Participation Rules made by the Registrar in each State and Territory.
Should you have concerns or questions please contact The Australian Registrar's National Electronic Conveyancing Council
Step two: Register with an ELNO.
To find out more, including information on becoming a subscriber visit:
Property Exchange Australia Limited and/or Sympli Australia Ltd
Step three: Determine if the transaction is eligible. See Eligible Dealings above.
Step four: Start lodging electronically.
What is iOp?
“Interoperability” (iOp) is the ability of one Electronic Lodgment Network Operator (ELNO) to exchange data with a different ELNO to complete a property transaction. Until recently, there was only one ELNO operating in South Australia — that being Property Exchange Australia Ltd. (PEXA). In December 2019, however, another ELNO commenced operations in SA — Sympli Australia Pty Ltd (Sympli). Sympli also operates in other jurisdictions and there is potential for more ELNO’s to occupy this evolving environment in the future.
The existence of multiple ELNOs is a great thing for the marketplace. It provides choice and competition, which drives innovation, lower consumer prices and better service. However, at present, the ELNOs do not interoperate with one another to complete a dealing. This problem exists in all states and territories that use ELNOs.
Why do we need it?
Interoperability matters because, without it, both parties (vendor and purchaser) will be forced to use the same ELNO to complete a transaction. Feedback from the industry supports interoperability to enable Subscribers to use the ELNO/s of their choice, without the need to purchase licences and maintain separate credentials for each ELNO.
Similar to a customer of one bank being able to deposit funds to a customer of a different bank, or an Optus customer being able to text a Telstra customer, Subscribers want the ability to transact with anyone who uses a different ELNO to them. Additional costs, access keys and credentials, and staff training required to subscribe to multiple ELNOs, are problems that industry does not want. Additionally, without iOp, there is a danger of the incumbent ELNO establishing a monopoly through natural market attrition, with resulting lack of consumer choice and associated disadvantages.
Over the past year, several reports have advocated in favour of ELNO interoperability. These include:
What are we doing about it?
In late 2019, the Office of the Registrar General (ORG), in partnership with the Public Sector Innovation Lab, issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking ideas about technological solutions to the iOp issue. Following a public information forum, ORG received multiple submissions about how iOp might be made possible. ORG is considering what the next steps in this process should be.
In the interim, SA ORG has joined with the NSW ORG to jointly investigate iOp and the best ways to expedite a solution. The team is using iOp work undertaken by NSW earlier in 2019 as a basis from which to move forward. It plans to work closely with other jurisdictions, industry, peak bodies comprised of members with expertise in relevant areas, and regulators to consider what is necessary to create an iOp market.
To learn more about the joint SA/NSW ORG work go to: https://www.registrargeneral.nsw.gov.au/regulator/interoperability