25+ Years as the Peak Body supporting the Conveyancing Profession Nationally
What is the Australian Institute of Conveyancers?
History of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers
Their formation was driven by the need to represent the conveyancers licensed or registered within that state. State and territory governments are currently responsible for the licensing of conveyancers, and the licensing requirements vary between the jurisdictions. In more recent times, there has been a rise in issues affecting all conveyancers. Rather than working alone, it became important that conveyancers had a united voice to deal effectively with these national issues. In December 1992, the Australian Institute of Conveyancers was registered as an Incorporated Association. The state organisations became Divisions of the Institute and constitute its Members. Conveyancers and other associated industry participants are members of their State Division. Since then, the Institute has actively advocated on national issues on behalf of specialist Conveyancers. The work load for the Division members taking on the National Council and Secretariat duties has risen steadily as national issues evolved and expanded. This situation led the Australian Council to appoint a fulltime National Secretary in January 2010 to assist the Institute and its members take on the challenges confronting specialist conveyancers in a rapidly changing environment.
Aims of the AIC
The Constitution specifies the objects of the Institute. These are summarised in the Vision and Mission adopted by the Institute as follows:
- To foster, promote and advance a national profession of conveyancers
- Promote uniform national educational and ethical standards
- Advance the professionalism of conveyancers
- Represent the interests of the conveyancing profession and the public in legislative reform
The Institute developed a three year Strategic Plan which is reviewed and revised at least annually. The Institute has developed a set of Policies on a range of issues affecting conveyancers nationally. These are also reviewed and adjusted regularly. To ensure best practice, ethical standards and appropriate service standards for the conveyancing profession, the Institute obliges members to adhere to a Code of Conduct.
AIC Membership for individual conveyancers and those associated with conveyancing is through their State Division. Currently, State and Territory governments are responsible for licensing of conveyancers, and the licensing requirements vary between the jurisdictions. Member conveyancers can be found through lists on Division websites.
There have been non-solicitor conveyancers since the 1790s but in low numbers. In 1989, a group of unregulated conveyancers formed the Association of Property Conveyancers to lobby for licensing of specialist conveyancers. That Association became the NSW Division of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers. Since the passing of the Conveyancers Licensing Act 1992 and the expanded role allowed under the Conveyancers Licensing Act 1995, numbers of specialist conveyancers have been rapidly increasing.
Conveyancing licences started in 1993 when the Agents Licensing Act was amended to include specialist conveyancers. A new Act has now been enacted dealing specifically with conveyancers. The Jeff Hockley (a conveyancer licensed in SA at the time) opened Hockley Wu Conveyancing Servces. Other early starters were Bill Palmer and Nick Thomas. The Northern Territory Division of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers was started by Jeff Hockley almost immediately afterlicences became avaialble in 1993, with membership steadily expanding as licence numbers grew.
The Real Property Act was intorduced in the SA Parliament in 1857 by Sir Robert Torrens, SA’s third Premier. This world first legislation established a new government-guaranteed system of land ownership enabling the transfer of land using one document recorded at a single registry. The Torrens model is now used throughout Australia and has been adopted in New Zealand, England, Canada and the USA. The legislation was refined in 1860 when specilaist conveyancers (then called land brokers) were authorised to handle the transfer of land. The majority of conveyancing work in South Australia is now undertaken by specialist conveyancers who are registered under the Conveyancers Act 1994. There have been Associations representing specialist conveyancers in SA since 1923 when the Licensed Landbrokers and Auctioneers Association of South Australia was formed. The Landbrokers Society of SA Inc was formed in 1973 and subsequently became the South Australian Division of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers .
The Conveyancing Act was passed by the Tasmanian Government in 2004. The first exams were held statewide in 2006 which resulted in 3 licences being issued. Since the second exam was held we now have 10 Licensed Conveyancers. Two are from the North, two are in the North West and six are in the South of the state. Two are former legal practitioners who have relinquished their Legal Practising Certificates. The Tasmanian Division the Australian Institute of Conveyancers was established following the AGM of the AIC in 2008.
In Victoria, independent conveyancers began practising in the early 1980, offering Victorian consumers the freedom of choice for conveyancing services that had existed in some Australian States for many years. The Victorian Conveyancers’ Association (VCA) was formed in 1989 and incorporated in 1991 with a Charter to promote and monitor high standards of professional service and ethics among independent non-lawyer conveyancers. It became the Victorian Division of the Australian Insitute of Conveyancers in 1997.
Property settlements were traditionally conducted by law firms, real estate agents and banks, meeting at the Land Titles Office, who checked all documents before registration. The first settlement agency started in 1967, with numbers growing to 30 by 1972. After much concern that no legislation governed settlement agents, and following much dispute with the legal fraternity and political lobbying, the Settlement Agents Act 1981 was proclaimed. The Settlement Agents Association was incorporated in Western Australia in 1978, and was recognised in 1995 as the WA Division of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers.
Members of State and Territory Divisions may access the following benefits and services –
- Assistance and support from their Division
- National magazine published twice yearly
- National website as an information resource and with important links
- National Conference held biannually – networking, information, education
- Representation on national issues
- Participation in the Australian Council of the Australian Institute of Coveyancers
- Opportunities for cooperation in provision of services
Individual conveyancers may gain national recognition through two programs –
- Recognition of outstanding contribution to the profession by individual members as A Fellow of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers (nominated by their Division).
- Recognition of superior performance as a Certified Practising Conveyancer (CPC) (administered by their Division).
State and Territory Divisions provide a wide variety of services and resources to their members. Depending on the Division, these may include –
- Education and training
- Information resources
- State conference held biannually – networking, information, education
- Newsletters and/or magazines
- Access to services through partner businesses
AIC Australian Council
- represent the views of the conveyancing profession
- set policies (reviewed annually) to achieve the Mission and implement the Objectives set out in the Constitution
- oversee the operational functions of the AIC as it implements the strategic measures
The Council monitors the issues and environment impacting on conveyancers Australia-wide and develops strategic initiatives and responses to advance the AIC Vision of a national profession of conveyancers.
The AIC Australian Council consists of the President (elected annually at the AGM) and two representatives nominated by each Division. A Division may also nominate an alternate representative who attends if an appointed representative cannot attend.
What is a CPC?
The title of Certified Practising Conveyancer (CPC) is awarded to conveyancers who annually meet the standards set by each Division to maintain best practice through constant professional development.
- The title of Certified Practising Conveyancer (CPC) is awarded to conveyancers who annually meet the standards set by each Division to maintain best practice through constant professional development.Conveyancer members who qualify annually are entitled to use the CPC title, CPC post-nominal,CPC logo and slogan on their stationery, advertising and on other forms of publicity. It is a brand recognising conveyncers who are making the effort to keep up to date with developments and technology in order to deliver the best service.The State programs are very similar but currently operate independently of each other. A nationalreview is debveloping national minimum requirements across Australia, including –
- Minimum years of experience in practice as conveyancer
- Minimum number of hours of Professional Development (above licence requirements in States and Territories that require compulsory professional development as a condition oflicence renewal)
The national review is also considering replacement of the state logos with a national logo which is recognisable by all as a symbol of the best specialist conveyancers.
The website of each Division websites has information relating to the process of conveyancing in their state. Contact the Division in your State or Territory for detailed answers on the questions below, and other issues determined by legislation for that State or Territory.
What is Conveyancing?
In law, conveyancing is the transfer of legal title of property from one person to another or the granting of an encumbrance such as a mortgage or lien. A typical conveyancing transaction contains two major landmarks: the exchange of contracts (whereby equitable title passes) and completion (whereby legal title passes).
Conveyancing in Australia is usually completed by a licensed conveyancer or a solicitor.
Why use a Member of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers?
Licensed conveyancers have received on average two years focused training on property transactions, conveyancing procedures, property law and contract law. As specialists in conveyancing, a licensed conveyancer can offer clients the benefits of specialised knowledge and practice.
Members of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers are supported by their Divisions in continuing specialised training and keeping up to date with the latest developments in legislation, practices, products and services to enable them to deliver the most informed and efficient service available.
How do I get a licence to practice as a conveyancer?
Licence requirements vary a little across Australia. All have similar educational qualifications and require Professional Indemnity Insurance. Some require a period under the supervision of a licensed conveyancer. Consult the website of the Division you are interested in and the websites of the licensing authority in that State or Territory.
How do I find a conveyancer?
Go to the website of the Division in which you need a conveyancer to do work for you. Each Division carries lists of its members licensed to practise in that State or Territory.
Fellows Of AIC:
The award of the title of Fellow of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers is a recognition of outstanding service to the profession coupled with high levels of ability and professionalism. The first fellowships were presented at the national conference held in West Australia on 7 May 1998.
The following Bylaw was approved in 2003 –
- In order to become a Fellow of the Institute, a member must submit an application, endorsed by two Associate* members, to the relevant Division Council. A $150.00 non-refundable application fee must accompany the application. The application must be recommended by the relevant Division Council and in order to be eligible, an Associate* member must fulfil the following criteria.
- The member must be an Associate* member, and a practicing conveyancer for a minimum of ten years. The member must have a professional reputation of a high order and high ethical standards and must have made a significant contribution to the furtherance of the conveyancing profession.
- An applicant must demonstrate a minimum of three of the following:
- has served the profession with distinction;
- has a high level of general knowledge of conveyancing;
- has a high level of managerial and professional ability;
- has made a significant contribution when serving on the Division Council or the Australian Council;
- Following the Division Council’s recommendation, the matter will be referred to the Australian Council, which may elect the applicant as a Fellow of the institute. The decision of the Australian Council is final and binding.
* ‘Associate’ refers to an Ordinary, or Full-Member, the name of which may vary from State to State. To apply as a fellow of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers, click here to complete our application form.
The origins of e-Conveyancing
e-Conveyancing is an initiative championed by the property industry to simplify and digitise the complex process of property exchange. Instigated by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), it’s built around an online network of members supported by PEXA. To ensure the integrity of the network, the Australian Registrars’ National Electronic Conveyancing Council (ARNECC) has developed a regulatory framework, under which PEXA operates. Industry safeguards include the Participation Agreement, Verification of Identity and Digital Certificates. e-Conveyancing is currently live in five states and is a collaboration between many industry participants, including financial institutions, Land Registries and the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA). PEXA is committed to supporting the property industry as it transitions towards a 100% digital future. Register for PEXA
Message from the Chair
The COAG decision to not pursue national licensing is not only disappointing but a blow to industry and the economy. A mature and developed economy like Australia can no longer afford a myriad of licensing systems across all states and territories and yet the decision was taken to pursue some form of automatic mutual recognition (AMR) ahead of national licensing. This decision was taken despite the Productivity Commission’s recent report on labour mobility recommending that national licensing proceed. With this decision, the $200 million in deregulation savings that would have flowed under national licensing have been foregone. Instead the states and territories will now work via the Council for the Australian Federation to develop alternative options for minimising licensing impediments to labour mobility. The challenge for any AMR model will be to maintain consumer protection while allowing for industry to work seamlessly across state borders. In less than 18 months, NOLA had made significant progress towards the establishment of a national licensing system. Detailed policy work had been completed, providing solutions to many of the complex issues surrounding occupational licensing. Sound governance structures including a range of consultative committees had been formed, allowing industry and other stakeholders to fully engage in the development of the national licensing model. NOLA had worked with the industry to resolve many of the concerns evident in the Decision RIS and proposed alternatives to the Standing Council on Federal Financial Relations. These alternatives reflected industry consensus on outstanding issues. Importantly, the National Licensing Register, which was to provide easy access for consumers and regulators to details of licensees, was at testing stage. This Register would have included a state-of-the-art, Google-like search function. In a recent independent review of the work on Register, KPMG found that the project was well managed, comprehensively documented and would have comfortably met the go-live date. I wish to personally thank my colleagues on the National Occupational Licensing Board for diligence and commitment to national licensing. On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank the staff of NOLA for their dedication and hard work with special thanks to our Deputy CEO Barbara El-Gamal, for her professionalism, solid leadership and her unwavering commitment to delivering good public policy.
Message from the Deputy CEO
I have written to many of you who took part in the committees and other groups that worked with NOLA on a national licensing system for Australia. Id like to publicly thank you all for your efforts since our establishment in May 2012. As we awaited the final decision on national licensing, the NOLA team worked with many of you industry and jurisdictional representatives, operational and IT experts, and others to identify and resolve any issues that arose in developing the national licensing system. Through this input, we devised a model that provided the foundation for a national licensing system in Australia one that we would have continued to improve and refine with your input. This workable model provided better outcomes than alternative proposals for automatic mutual recognition while meeting the original COAG objectives for national licensing. Following the December COAG decision, work on national licensing will now be transferred to a council that meets annually with limited secretariat support and resources. As NOLA winds down, we hope the knowledge gained and the resources developed over the last 18 months will contribute to an efficient and workable model moving forward. Id like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the expertise and professionalism of the staff here at NOLA they worked under challenging conditions yet helped to create a cooperative and productive work environment. On behalf of all the staff at NOLA, Id like to thank our Board for their guidance and assistance. Id also like to thank our industry and jurisdiction stakeholders for their engagement and feedback. The real challenge lies ahead and hopefully the work done so far will guide the way towards an efficient and workable model for Australia. Barbara El-Gamal Deputy CEO