When you buy a property in Tasmania one of the first issues you will face is whether to use a conveyancer or a solicitor / lawyer to undertake the conveyancing / legal work for you.
You are legally entitled to perform the conveyance for yourself but personally, I would not recommend this as you really won’t know what you are doing – there is a lot of money at stake and you really need to use someone who is insured in case things go wrong. Your bank may also require you to use the services of a professional to ensure things go smoothly.
I personally think you should use a lawyer and here will attempt to explain why. By way of full disclosure, I am actually a lawyer myself though I am not practising at the moment so you can’t use me and I am not promoting myself in any way.
One of the first reasons that many people will tell you to choose a conveyancer is that they are cheaper than a lawyer. This is simply not true. There is a widely held perception that conveyancers are cheaper but if you ring around you will find that lawyers are very competitive and often cheaper than conveyancers themselves.
When you are in the process of making an offer on a property I highly urge you to get your lawyer to check over the wording of the contract before signing. Do not trust the agent if they say it is all standard as the wording may need adjusting to suit your particular circumstances. When Jo and I bought our house in Sandy Bay, our lawyer, Roger Cann, made some recommendations and redrafted the settlement clause to suit our particular circumstances – we were selling another house first and needed the settlements to be conducted simultaneously. If he had not redrafted the clause for us we would not have been able to change the dates when our purchasers changed their settlement date down the track – his advice before the contract was signed saved us a lot of heartache and money.
Now for the reasons to use a lawyer:
- Lawyers are far more regulated and far more onerous training requirements exist for lawyers.
- Conveyancers can prepare titles office and other approved dealings for a fee. They can’t give legal advice for reward. They have limited experience and limited knowledge of the law.
The benefit of employing a solicitor over a conveyancer is:-
- greater expertise and experience of the law (and therefore a better service and higher accountability)
- can give legal advice regarding the contract and settlement process (a conveyancer can only do the grunt work)
- a solicitor is better equipped to deal with disputes or pre-contractual negotiations
- a solicitor can prepare or amend contracts of sale
- availability of advice and assistance in relation to dealings with third parties eg council, state revenue office etc
- a broader range of services than can be given by a conveyancer eg wills, powers of attorney and other legal support;
- conveyancers often charge a reduced fee so their business model depends on volume not quality of service.
In terms of insurance both lawyers and conveyancers are required to be insured for at least 1 million of cover but the insurance may not always cover you.
Under the conveyancing act a conveyancer is defined as a person who for fee or reward prepares dealings under the Land Titles Act. Strictly speaking that is all that they can do. In practice however they present themselves as an alternative to lawyers.
Section 13 of the Legal Profession Act 2007 prohibits a person engaging in legal practice unless he or she is an Australian Legal Practitioner – the section excludes conveyancing work carried out in accordance with a licence under the Conveyancing Act 2004.
So strictly speaking a conveyancer can only prepare the documents and they should not offer advice or prepare other documents. I wonder whether, if they were sued for proffering advice, whether they would be covered by indemnity insurance since they are not entitled to so do?
You should bear in mind that I am not providing legal advice in this article and you should seek your own advice from a lawyer. I am merely providing information for your benefit and I personally don’t believe that conveyancers can provide the full service that lawyers provide. I don’t believe that conveyancers can legally give advice on the wording of the contract and draft clauses. Conveyancers from my experience will claim that they can provide such advice but given that you can get a lawyer for the same price why bother using a conveyancer and take the risk?
The lawyer we used for our conveyance was Roger Cann and can be found online at: Cann Legal – Contact Details
He is located in Ulverstone on the North West Coast of Tasmania but can handle your conveyance no matter where you are located. By way of full disclosure I went to law school with Roger and he is a friend but that in no way clouds my judgement and recommendation. He provides excellent service so why don’t you get a quote from him. I know he will look after you and you will get top quality service.
If you have any questions about using a conveyancer or lawyer then please join/register at the forum and post your questions. We would like to help out. If you have specific legal queries about a particular contract then I suggest you contact a lawyer and highly recommend Roger.
And of course we are here to help you find the perfect property – so contact us for help with your search.