The deadline for lodging caveats online in Victoria takes effect this December. Gadens Partner Peter Grotjan speaks of their readiness for industry’s digital transformation.
Q. The deadline for lodging caveats online in Victoria is now only a few months away – how has your firm prepared for this?
We were one of the first law firms to use the PEXA platform through the Victorian e-conveyancing pilot. Our Banking & Finance teams have been using PEXA for the lodging of caveats since 2014. We lodged our first caveat in 2014 and, in more recent times, our Property and Litigation Teams have been using this functionality as well. Being a long-standing and committed PEXA platform user has positioned Gadens at the forefront of industry developments and helped prepare the firm for upcoming changes.
Q. Many practitioners who haven’t yet lodged a caveat online would benefit from hearing your experience. What was your experience and how long did it take?
Our experience is that it takes about 10 minutes to prepare the caveat, sign it and lodge online. This timing is very similar to the time taken using the paper channel, however gone is the added time of obtaining cheques for payment and then queuing at the Land Titles Office to register. This all that needs to be factored in – and can add hours! When you lodge a caveat you want it done as quickly as possible to reduce the risk of another dealing getting registered ahead of you.
Q. Some practitioners promptly moved their transactions online in readiness for state government compliance deadlines. Why do you think others have been slow to make the move online?
Each practitioner will have their own reasons but I assume some may fear the initial administration involved. When you add to that the training and in-house education that needs to take place to get staff ready to use PEXA, it may be easier to delay the inevitable and wait until deadlines loom.
Q. Looking beyond the 1 December deadline for caveats, can you foreshadow how the PEXA technology might assist with making property transactions faster, safer and more efficient in your firm?
PEXA is a secure platform that greatly assists with electronic settlements and lodgements, which is the critical back end for property transactions. It also takes out the time lag and risk in stamping and registration after settlement as this all happens on the same day. The need to obtain bank cheques is also removed.
Q. Within many law firms there is usually a catalyst for change. How important is embracing new technology for your firm?
Extremely important. Gadens has always embraced new technology and has been an early adopter as we see the benefit in providing innovative solutions to our clients. In addition to PEXA, we have a number of other proprietary systems that are used by our clients in the banking and financial services and property sectors to undertake legal work. Harnessing technology combined with efficient internal processes also means we can provide clients with a better and consistent experience.
Q. What technology and future-proofing advice would you offer to other conveyancing practitioners?
Having a ‘one-stop’ platform like PEXA can only benefit all players in the market. PEXA will ultimately embed a consistent way of working for all participants, which can only benefit the market as everyone will know what is expected from them throughout each stage of a transaction. Having worked closely with PEXA since the start to make this all a reality, we have really seen the benefits in the way that PEXA will change how conveyancing is done across Australia. Although there will always be exceptions and some transactions will settle manually, we are confident that everyone will benefit over time.