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REINSW submission on electronic contracts

16 February 2018

REINSW has made a submission in response to a Discussion Paper on ways that digital technology and electronic signatures can make land transactions more efficient and secure. 

NSW is transitioning to an electronic system for settling conveyancing matters and for the lodgment and registration of land dealings. 

The NSW Government is exploring ways to overcome barriers to a completely paperless process and the Office of the Registrar General released a discussion paper examining ways to harness new technology.

REINSW submission

REINSW has made previous submissions to the NSW Government in relation to the ability of property-related documents to be created and signed electronically. 

This latest submission, made on 31 January 2018, involves REINSW resubmitting its position by enclosing the joint submission from the national and all other Real Estate Institutes on 18 November 2015 and its subsequent submission on 4 April 2016. Read it in full here.

The submission suggests simple amendments to the Electronic Transactions Regulations 2000 (Cth) which, if implemented, would:

(a) enable a party entering into an e-contract with a company to rely on the same assumptions under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) relating to the validity of the company’s execution that they can rely on if the contract were in paper form

(b) remove the exemption that prevents the Electronic Transactions Act 1999 (Cth) from applying to documents required or permitted by law to be witnessed especially since in NSW and Queensland contracts for the sale of land are not required by law to be witnessed even though other commonly used property-related documents must be. 

Critical to improve productivity

REINSW position is that these amendments to the legislation are critical to improving productivity within the property industry. 

It would also allow property professionals and consumers to use the Electronic Transactions legislation as a guide for the creation, transmission and signing of documents electronically.

The amendments would eliminate the confusion and uncertainty in property-related e-commerce transactions because there would be a clearer understanding of the procedures governing those transactions.

REINSW CEO Tim McKibbin said: “REINSW agrees that the laws dealing with property acquisition are stuck in the age of paper and ink. It commends the NSW Government for taking steps to bring the 20th century laws governing property acquisition in line with the expectations and commercial environment surrounding the 21st century consumer.”