Property Settlements and Conveyancing – The History of Conveyancing in New Zealand

Property Settlements and Conveyancing - The History of Conveyancing in New ZealandConveyancing Practitioners – Who are we, and where did we come from? We complete the same legal work in relation to property and business settlements as Solicitors. You now have a choice.

The story begins; The registry for chain of Title is based on the Torrens systems which was introduced in New Zealand in the mid 1800’s. The transfer of property ownership in New Zealand since the 1800’s, had been undertaken by either Lawyers or Land Brokers. After the Second World War, the profession of Land Brokers dwindled away as the Minister of Justice, and a former Lawyer stopped issuing any more Land Brokers Licenses, as they took away the lucrative Conveyancing work from Lawyers.

The Land Transfer Act 1952 still had a provision for Land Brokers to provide Conveyancing Services as an alternative to using a Lawyer. The Conveyancing Profession today exists due to the efforts of Lester Roy Dempster who sadly passed away in June of this year (2009) Lester worked in the former Lands and Survey Dept as a Survey Draftsman for 10 years, and then spent a further 10 years with the Lands and Deed Registry as an Assistant Registrar.

He was aware of the provision within the Transfer of Land Act for Land Brokers to provide Conveyancing and Settlement Services to the Public, but could not be issued with a Land Brokers License. A series of Court cases ensued including a challenge to the Registrar-General of Land for the re-introduction of Licensed Land Brokers which was still statute. Lester obtained his License in South Australia and under the Trans Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997 was licensed to operate in New Zealand as a Land Broker. The Law Society took the RGL (Registrar General of Land) to court and Lester intervened and the case went to the Court of Appeal. This case was won by Lester who was allowed to practice.

Conveyancing was his passion, and through some very trying times over many years he rose to the challenges of the Legal Fraternity. They could do nothing to stop him from his endeavours. The Labour Government in their wisdom decided change was required and the consumer should have an alternative to Solicitors to complete Property and Business settlements. The parliamentary process began and in April 2006 The Lawyers and Conveyancers Act received Royal Assent. Over the next couple of years Lester, Robyn Renouf and I consulted directly with the Ministry of Justice for the implementation of the Rules and Regulations which govern Conveyancing Practitioners today

Full implementation of the Act came into force on the 1st August 2008. No longer did the legal fraternity have the monopoly on the market. To date there are 8 Licensed Conveyancing Practitioners in New Zealand, and if the Australian Conveyancing Profession is anything to go by the future for this Profession in New Zealand is very exciting. Conveyancing Practitioners are regulated, are required to hold Professional Indemnity Insurance, Fidelity Insurance and abide by Code of Conduct and Client Care Rules. Many Legal Practitioners will dispute the experience of Conveyancing Practitioners to be qualified to undertake property and business settlements, but rest assured we do have the experience and expertise.

A Diploma in Conveyancing is provided through the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic. New Zealand is now world leading in property settlements, with registrations being completed electronically and referred to as e-dealing. In effect this enables registration of documents to be almost instantaneous ensuring the property you are purchasing is transferred into your name, together with any mortgage instrument if applicable. There are only a few documents left which need to be manually lodged with Land Information New Zealand. As the Conveyancing Profession grows, the trend will see a reduction in the number of transactions being completed by Legal Practitioners. This is how the trend went in Australia, and the Conveyancing Profession in some Australian States has been established for well over 25 years.

Technology will play a big part in the way that Conveyancing Services are provided and delivered, that and an increase in competition for market share will tend to stabilise Conveyancing costs to the consumer, and increase the levels of service. Disclosure and transparency will also lead to more security in asset transfers.

The benefits of the new regime will affect everybody involved in a property or business transaction: Increase in the level of service delivery. Cost effectiveness. Security. Disclosure and Transparency. Effective communication between Professionals and Clients involved. Increasing use of Technology. Increase in specialists who exclusively undertake property and business conveyancing. Knowledge, experience and expertise.

Change is taking place all the time, and some people do not like change but lets embrace it. So get on board with the new face of Conveyancing!

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