The Queensland Government has announced that electronic conveyancing will be mandated in Queensland from 20 February 2023. While e-conveyancing has now been around for some time and most law firms (including us) now settle most conveyances electronically, until now buyers and sellers have been able to choose whether to settle conveyances electronically or by the more traditional "paper" settlement in which representatives of both parties meet and exchange paper transfer documents and bank cheques.

A key part of e-conveyancing is that law firms and financiers are required to identify their clients, requiring a minimum level of original photo identification to be produced and a face to face meeting to occur to confirm that the client's identity matches their identification. Potential buyers and sellers (including directors of buying and selling companies) should be considering now whether:

  1. they have sufficient original identification to satisfy the verification of identity requirements (see below);
  2. all identification "matches" eg the same name appears on all documents and is spelled correctly and consistently; and
  3. the identification is current.

Under the current REIQ Contracts, e-conveyancing may only be used if all parties to the transaction agree. Once that agreement is reached, a party may withdraw from an electronic settlement up to 5 business days before the scheduled settlement date. However, once the mandate comes in, electronic settlement will be compulsory for all dealings and documents that are approved for electronic conveyancing, unless an exception applies.

Compulsory dealings will include:

  1. transfers;
  2. mortgages and releases of mortgage;
  3. caveats and withdrawals of caveats;
  4. priority notices and requests to extend or withdraw a priority notice; and
  5. an application to be registered as a personal representative for a registered owner of a lot who has died.

There are some limited exceptions to the requirement but the general rule is that if an instrument is capable of electronic lodgement, it will be required to be lodged electronically.

While the mandate is important for lawyers, it is also important for anyone who is likely to be party to a property transaction from February 2023. In order for lawyers to transact an electronic settlement for their clients, lawyers are required to comply with strict requirements for verification of identity of their clients. A failure by a client to produce the required identification may mean that their lawyer is unable to transact electronically on the client's behalf. Clients should take steps as soon as possible to ensure that they have the right original identification required to satisfy the verification of identity requirements. The most common combinations of acceptable identification are:

  1. driver's licence and passport;
  2. driver's licence, Medicare card and birth certificate;
  3. a passport, Medicare card and birth certificate.

Driver's licences and Medicare cards are required to be current, however passports may be expired provided that they did not expire more than 2 years previously. Additional identification may be required where the client has changed their name whether by marriage or otherwise. Marriage certificates and birth certificates must be the original official certificate and not an "extract" or commemorative certificate.

Don't wait until 2023 - if you are expecting to be a party to a property transaction in 2023 (including if you are a director of a company that will be a party to a property transaction), check whether you have the right original identification now to ensure that your verification of identity does not hold up your electronic settlement once electronic conveyancing becomes compulsory from 20 February 2023.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.