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Licensing requirements 

Professional conveyancing ensures the legality of a sale or purchase and supports clients’ financial security for these important transactions.

A person who does business as a conveyancer must hold a conveyancer’s licence issued by NSW Fair Trading, unless they are a legal practitioner. A corporation can also hold a conveyancer’s licence.

Conveyancers are regulated by the Conveyancers Licensing Act 2003 and the Conveyancers Licensing Regulation 2015. These laws set out what legal work may be done under a conveyancer’s licence, the rules and requirements for conducting a conveyancing business and a resolution process for costs disputes. It also enables conveyancers to be penalised for breaching their legal requirements.

General requirements 

A person or corporation must hold a conveyancer’s licence if they wish to conduct a conveyancing business.

This requirement does not apply to a legal practitioner, an incorporated legal practice or solicitor corporation.

No licence is required to do conveyancing work as an employee of a licensed conveyancer or a legal practitioner.

To be eligible for a licence, a person must:

  • be at least 18 years old
  • be a fit and proper person to hold a licence
  • hold an appropriate qualification
  • not be a disqualified person
  • contribute to the Compensation Fund (paid with the licence application fee).

Where a licensee or applicant is in a partnership, each partner must also be licensed, unless the Secretary has given approval for a partnership with an unlicensed person (see section 27 of the Act).

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Corporation licences 

For a corporation to be eligible for a licence:

  • each director of the corporation must be a fit and proper person
  • neither the corporation nor a director or executive officer of it may be a disqualified person
  • the corporation must contribute to the compensation fund (paid with the licence application fee)
  • at least one director of the corporation must hold an individual conveyancer’s licence.

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Qualifications 

The qualifications for a licence approved by the Minister for Fair Trading are set out in the Conveyancers Licensing Order 2006, available on the NSW Legislation website.

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Professional indemnity insurance 

Licensed conveyancers must be covered by a policy of professional indemnity insurance when carrying out work as a conveyancer. This means that a conveyancer does not have to obtain or hold a policy of professional indemnity insurance when they are not working as a conveyancer (for example, taking a break to do other work or having a long holiday). A licensee may take out their own policy, or they may be covered by their employer’s policy.

The professional indemnity insurance policy must be one that has been approved by the Minister for Fair Trading and can be found in the Conveyancers Licensing Order 2006.

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Applying for a licence 

For information about applying for a conveyancer’s licence, go to the Fair Trading website, the website includes information for individual licences and corporation licences, application forms and information about applying for a new licence or renewing or restoring an existing licence, including application fees and compensation fund contributions.

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Annual licence period 

From 8 July 2016 a licence takes effect on the date on which it is granted or on such later date as may be specified in it and (unless it is sooner suspended or cancelled) remains in force for 1 year.

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Renewing or restoring a licence 

To renew their licence, licence holders must:

  • have done continuing professional development during the past year as required by the Commissioner’s Guidelines for Continuing Professional Development for Conveyancers (in RTF format, 454kb). The guidelines set out the number of points that must be accrued each year and the types of recognised professional development.
  • lodge an application for renewal of a licence with Fair Trading up to 4 weeks before the licence’s expiry date.

If an application for renewal is not made by the expiry date, the licence lapses. A conveyancer must not conduct any conveyancing business while their licence is lapsed.

Conveyancers can apply to restore a lapsed licence within 3 months of its expiry. After that, an application for a new licence must be made.

Licence applicants and renewals no longer require evidence of professional indemnity insurance cover.

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Appeals against licence decisions 

A person dissatisfied with a NSW Fair Trading decision concerning the issue, renewal or restoration of a licence, or a discretionary condition placed on a licence, is entitled to have the decision reviewed by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Before applying to the Tribunal, you must write to the Secretary to request an internal review of the decision. Requests for an internal review must be made within 28 days of being advised of the decision. If the licensee or applicant remains dissatisfied after the internal review, an application can be made to the Tribunal.

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Register of licences 

NSW Fair Trading maintains a register of all licences issued under the Act. As well as details of each licence holder, the register includes information about disciplinary findings against licensees, payments from the Compensation Fund and other matters.

The aim of the register is to support consumers in selecting the services of appropriately licensed and competent conveyancers. To find out details about a licensee, visit the NSW Government Public Register and click ‘Conveyancer’ or call our Property Services Licensing Unit on (02) 9619 8799.

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Disqualified persons 

A disqualified person, including a disqualified corporation, is not eligible to obtain or hold a licence under the Act. Disqualified persons also cannot:

  • share receipts with a licensee (section 26)
  • be in partnership with a licensee (section 27)
  • be employed by a licensee, with certain exceptions, unless the Secretary has given approval (section 29)
  • if an individual, be a director of a licensed conveyancing corporation (section 8).

A person is disqualified from performing conveyancing work if they:

  • have been convicted of an offence involving dishonesty in the last 10 years
  • are mentally incapacitated
  • are disqualified, or have had their licence suspended, in another state or territory or under other NSW Fair Trading licensing laws, or are disqualified from being employed in a law practice
  • hold a licence or certificate under the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002
  • are in partnership with a disqualified person
  • have been declared disqualified as a result of disciplinary action under the Act
  • have failed to pay a compensation fund contribution, a debt arising from a claim on the compensation fund or a monetary penalty
  • have failed to comply with a disciplinary direction given by the Director General under Part 9 of the Act
  • have failed to lodge an auditor’s report relating to trust money held under the Act
  • have been removed, otherwise than by their own request, from the roll of lawyers kept by the Supreme Court or from a corresponding roll in another state or territory
  • as a corporation, are subject to a winding up order or under external administration
  • are a legal practitioner, solicitor corporation or incorporated legal practice.

Under section 10(2) of the Act, a person is disqualified from holding a licence, but is able to be employed by a licensed conveyancer, if, among other things, they:

  • are an undischarged bankrupt
  • were bankrupt during the last 3 years
  • were a director or manager of a company under external administration during the last 3 years (except in the case of a member’s voluntary winding up)
  • were a director or manager during the last 3 years of a company that went into external administration within the following 12 months of them ceasing to be a director or manager.

The Secretary can approve the issue of a licence to a disqualified person in certain limited circumstances (see section 10).

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