When buying or selling a property, you will probably need to hire professional assistance to handle the conveyancing process. While you have the right to do the conveyancing process, if you do not have experience in this area, things could become quite tricky.
In Queensland and the ACT, all paid conveyancing work must be done by a law firm. However, in Australia’s other states and territories, this work is engaged in by licensed conveyancers as well as by law firms.
As such, most people will have to choose whether they employ a licensed conveyancer or a lawyer to help with the conveyancing of property. So what’s the difference?
Expertise and services
A licensed conveyancer is a professional who is licensed to conduct part of the legal work associated with the transaction of real estate. Conveyancers can prepare the relevant documents and offer advice within the scope of conveyancing laws. However, as they are not qualified lawyers, their tasks in relation to this area cannot legally extend past this rather limited degree of advice.
Comparatively, lawyers who specialise in conveyancing are able to conduct the conveyancing work undertaken by their conveyancer counterparts while also being capable of engaging in any additional legal work that may be required during the real estate transaction. This legal expertise will also increase the likelihood of any particular issues in the transaction process being identified and dealt with at an earlier date. As such, a lawyer has a far greater prospect of facilitating a more efficient, hassle-free and smooth transaction of real estate.
Indeed, it is widely accepted, including by licensed conveyancers, that should a client encounter legal issues during the conveyancing process, qualified lawyers are the best port of call for representation and advice.
As licensed conveyancers are unable to offer the same level of expertise and services to clients as qualified lawyers, lower fees are offered to create competition with legal practitioners. Indeed, Victoria’s Conveyancers Act 2006 outlines that the main reason for the introduction of licensed conveyancers was the prospect of reduced conveyancing costs through competitive pricing. However, as such professionals cannot engage in matters beyond ‘conveyancing work’, these perceived savings will often be lost as conveyancers charge clients after referring them to a legal practitioner to handle more complex matters.
Professional indemnity insurance
Professional indemnity insurance (PI insurance) covers professionals for carelessness or negligence in the course of performing their professional tasks.
Licensed conveyancers, consistently with their legal parameters, are only insured for ‘conveyancing work’. By comparison, lawyers are covered under PI insurance for everything they do on their client’s behalf.
In summary, it’s most wise to seek out the services of a legal practitioner to conduct the conveyancing process when you are buying or selling real estate, as their benefits are wide-ranging, particularly as their expertise gives them a much larger capacity to identify and solve any legal issues.
Titlexchange is a nationally licensed law firm with registered solicitors in all of the main states of Australia. If you haven’t done so already take a look at our various conveyancing packages. They are fixed-cost prices that include our legal fees, disbursements (such as title searches and certificates) and additional services like contract reviews (where applicable). Speak to us today.