Supervising a conveyancing business
Conveyancers are responsible for supervising the conveyancing business done under their licence. They must:
- properly supervise employees
- establish, monitor and enforce procedures to ensure all relevant laws are complied with.
A licensee cannot be in charge of more than one place of business or conveyancing business. You must employ another licence holder to be in charge for each place of business. A corporation licensee must also employ separate licence holders to be in charge of each place of business. The Secretary may provide an exemption to this requirement. An exemption is generally only considered for offices in remote areas, where it may be difficult to have a licensee-in-charge for each branch.
Requirements for conveyancers are set out in the Conveyancers Licensing Act 2003 and Conveyancers Licensing Regulation 2015.
As a licensee, you’re responsible for the work done by employees (section 30 of the Act). Records of employees’ names and residential addresses must be kept for at least three years after a person has stopped being an employee. A licensee must let the Secretary know, in writing, within 7 days if an employee is disqualified from doing conveyancing work. Go to the licensing requirements for conveyancing page for more information or submit a notice through the make an enquiry page.
Rules of conduct
Conveyancers must follow rules of conduct that set the standard for business dealings and ethical behaviour with consumers. These include:
- dealing with their clients competently, diligently, fairly and honestly
- providing certain information to clients about the conveyancing process
- never allowing any conflict of interest to interfere with a client's best interests.
Breaking the rules can result in a conveyancer being penalised.
A licensee who wants to do business under a different name to their own name must have this approved by the Secretary. You can request this approval when you apply for the licence. The name will also need to be registered under the Business Names Registration Act 2011 (Commonwealth).
A licensee may advertise unless it:
- is false, misleading or deceptive, or
- breaches any laws (this includes the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 of the Commonwealth, the Fair Trading Act 1987 and other relevant legislation).
Advertising is also subject to the Act, Division 4 - Advertisements and Representations.
Conveyancers' audit reports
The annual audit period ends on 30 June each year (under sections 75 and 76). The auditor's report must be submitted no later than 30 September each year, within three months of the audit period ending. Go to the trust accounts and audit requirements page for more information.
A licensed conveyancer must keep originals or copies of all documents for any transaction carried out by the licensee or the licensee's employees. Records relating to a transaction must be kept in a separate file for that transaction. Records must be kept by the licensee for seven years, unless they have been lawfully transferred to another licensee or a legal practitioner. All books and records must be in English. These requirements are set out in Part 6 of the Conveyancers Licensing Regulation 2015.
Professional indemnity insurance
All licensed conveyancers currently doing work should make sure they are insured under a policy of Professional Indemnity (required by clause 6 of the Conveyancers Licensing Regulation 2015).
A conveyancer who is currently practising must:
- be insured under an approved policy of professional indemnity insurance in force with respect to the licensee, or his or her employer, or
- carry out conveyancing work only in the licensee's capacity as an employee of a complying law practice.
A licensee only requires cover by an approved policy when performing work as a conveyancer. When planning an extended break, licensed conveyancers should check with their industry association about the status of their policy cover. They should make sure they are covered until they stop working. After an extended break, a licensee should ensure with their industry association that their insurance policy has been reinstated before starting work again.
Professional indemnity insurance policies approved by the Commissioner for Fair Trading are available to members of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers (NSW Division). Details of the approved policies come under the Conveyancers Licensing (Approved Professional Indemnity Insurance Policy) Order 2017, which can be found on the NSW legislation website. These are the only current professional indemnity insurance policies for licensed conveyancers approved by the Commissioner. This 2017 Order has been amended by the Conveyancers Licensing Amendment (Approved Professional Indemnity Insurance Policy) Order 2018, which contains the Commissioner’s approval of the conveyancers’ professional indemnity insurance policies for the period 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019.
Visit the Australian Institute of Conveyancers website for more information on membership and insurance cover.