05-10-2016 02:10 PM - edited 05-10-2016 02:12 PM
I have wondered why lawyers/conveyancers feel that they should be saddled the burden of preparing, executing and submitting State Revenue Office (SRO) forms as though they are an essential part of the conveyancing transaction. Well, I have just discovered that they are not part of the conveyancing transaction at all. This means that we do not have to act on bank "requirements" to produce, these documents or to assume responsibility for them if they are incorrect in paper transactions. Nor do we have to deal with them and simply absorb the time/cost of doing so.
I have just had a member of the State Revenue Office confirm to me that the preparation and submission of State Revenue Office (SRO) forms is not the responsibility of the conveyancer or the legal practitioner. (It is only when settlement is being completed through PEXA that the conveyancer/legal practitioner is obliged to assume responsibility for dealing with stamp duty matters, and this is done through Duties Online.)
In other words, the handling of SRO documents is not part of the conveyancing transaction. This is because these documents cannot be signed under a Client Authorisation, which document authorises the subscriber to perform tasks (a) to (d) as set out in the Client Authorisation form. The client gives the following authority to a subscriber in by way of the Client Authorisation form:
(a) sign Documents on my behalf as required for the Conveyancing Transaction(s); and
(b) submit or authorise submission of Documents for lodgment with the relevant Land Registry; and
(c) authorise any financial settlement involved in the Conveyancing Transaction(s); and
(d) do anything elese necessary to complete the Conveyancing Transaction(s).
I sought advice on signing SRO documents on behalf of my clients pursuant to the Client Authorisation form, just as I do through the PEXA procedure, including (as of next year) paper Transfer of Land forms (which are stamped by the SRO). According to the SRO, the term "Documents on my behalf as required for the Conveyancing Transaction(s)" does NOT include SRO documents, so it follows, that SRO documents are NOT documents "required for the conveyancing transaction".
As SRO documents are not documents required for the conveyancing transaction, I need not include the handling of them as part of my fixed fee conveyancing service. In other words, I am entitled to insist that a client should download the appropriate SRO forms from the SRO website, complete them and and personally submit them to their bank. It is then the responsibility of the bank to deal with the forms as per the bank customer's instructions.
Alternatively, if the client does not have a lender that they can instruct in relation to the SRO forms, the client may instruct me to deal with the forms for them, but for a fee that does not form part of my fixed conveyancing fee.
Interestingly, the SRO confirmed that they will accept documents signed by a lawyer/conveyancer on behalf of a client pursuant to a Power of Attorney, but definitely NOT a Client Authorisation. My understanding is that the purpose of the Client Authorisation is to replace the Power of Attorney because of jurisdictional problems. Rather strange.
Perhaps one day the SRO will seek to have their forms included in the definition of "Documents required for the Conveyancing Transaction" so that practitioners can sign them for paper transactions, but until then the SRO's documents remain outside of the conveyancing transaction.
on 21-11-2016 04:08 PM
My most recent plea to the State Revenue Office to work with me in reducing paperwork and enhancing the electronic conveyancing system to make it more (i.e. not less) efficient than the current system. It seems to me that the lawyer/conveyancer is still seen as a willing horse to be exploited. And if we let them, they will!
"Thank you for sending me the Duties Online Terms and Conditions (DOLT&C). Two further questions, if I may:
1. Regarding Condition 5 of the Schedule "RECORD KEEPING REQUIREMENTS" at page 13 of the DOLT&C, the requirement is for the User to keep all records as specified by the Commissioner. Can I please have a copy of the "records as specified by the Commissioner".
2. If the Commissioner has specified that a User must keep records in the form of SRO forms (e.g. Duties Forms 62, 01, 06A etc.), is it possible for me to request a variation under Condition 6 so as to allow me to store my clients' responses to the questions set out in the applicable forms, without my having to have hard copy forms executed by my clients in order to satisfy the abovementioned RECORD KEEPING REQUIREMENTS?
The reason for this query is that I have developed a sophisticated electronic data collection system, whereby my clients complete an online form which includes the questions asked in the Duties Online form. It doubles up on our workload, and reduces efficiency if instead of replacing the need for paper forms, the Duties Online system simply adds a further layer of duplication.
Furthermore, the RECORD KEEPING REQUIREMENTS now require me to allocate time and space for the collating, referencing, storing and auditing of paper documents for years into the future without my being able to recover cost.
However, if I withdraw from Duties Online, and revert to the use of paper forms only, I am in a position to insist that the client should provide the relevant form, and to leave responsibility for the timely delivery of a properly executed form with the client, as well as leaving responsibility for retention of the hard copy documents with the State Revenue Office.
I have suspended my use of the PEXA electronic conveyancing system pending your reply."