Buyers and sellers looking for someone to help them with property transactions often get confused by the differences in terminology between the role of a solicitor and that of a conveyancer. To add to the confusion, not all states in Australia have the same rules when it comes to these differences.
For example, in New South Wales both solicitors and licensed conveyancers are legally able to perform property transfers. They both must hold professional indemnity insurance and adhere to a Professional Code of Conduct. Licensed conveyancers must be members of an industry body called the Institute of Conveyancers while solicitors must belong to the Law Society of New South Wales.
Interstate Conveyancing Licences not Recognised in Queensland
In Queensland, however, there is no legislation that allows the formation of a group such as licensed conveyancers as they exist south of the border. The Queensland government does not recognise conveyancing licenses issued in other states or allow licensed conveyancers from interstate to practice in Queensland. What does this all mean for buyers or sellers looking for someone qualified to perform property transfers in Queensland?
Thankfully, it is not as confusing as it first seems. All property transfers in Queensland must be performed under the direct supervision of, and signed off by a Queensland registered solicitor. There are many competent conveyancing solicitors. Typically, a solicitor will have a number of conveyancing staff working under supervision, arranging searches, preparing documents, corresponding with clients and organising settlements. The accuracy and quality of their work is the responsibility of the supervising solicitor.
In Queensland, should a buyer or seller wish to do their own conveyancing, this is legally allowed but only for properties that they own or are buying themselves. There are two downsides to this. One is that if anything goes wrong with the transaction, they may still have to engage a solicitor or a firm such as GM Lawyers to sort everything out which could delay settlement. The other is that they have no professional indemnity insurance as a safety net.
Queensland Property Transfers Must be Done by a Queensland Registered Solicitor
The simple answer for Queensland property owners is that a solicitor will have completed a Law degree, and will be registered to practice in Queensland as a member of the Queensland Law Society. A conveyancer is the informal name given to paralegal staff working for a legal firm and doing conveyancing under the supervision of a registered solicitor.
Always seek legal advice before entering any contract to buy or sell any type of property in Queensland. Standard REIQ contracts can still have clauses inserted into them that may need a legal opinion to protect the parties involved. It will also save everyone who is involved a lot of anxiety.