Grounds for disciplinary action
The Secretary can take disciplinary action against licensed conveyancers who:
- break the Conveyancers Licensing Act 2003 or Conveyancers Licensing Regulation 2015, including the rules of conduct
- breach a licence condition
- become disqualified from holding a licence or certificate
- cease to be ‘fit and proper’ for the duties of a licensed conveyancer
- fail to pay a required contribution to the compensation fund
- fail to comply with an undertaking made to, or a direction given by, the Secretary
- fail to pay a fine imposed by the Secretary following disciplinary action
- hold a licence that was obtained fraudulently or by mistake.
Penalty notices are a quick and efficient way of dealing with minor offences. NSW Fair Trading can give a penalty notice if there is evidence that they have committed an offence under the Act or regulations. The person can pay the amount of the penalty within the timeframe. Payment is not an admission of liability. Penalty notice offences and amounts are prescribed in Schedule 4 of the Conveyancers Licensing Regulation 2015.
Show cause notices
The Secretary can issue a ‘show cause notice’ to begin disciplinary action. Show cause notices:
- are issued in writing
- give the person at least 14 days to respond
- describe the alleged conduct
A show cause notice gives the person the opportunity to make an oral or written submission to the Secretary to show the reasons why action should not be taken.
If there is a reason for disciplinary action, the Secretary can take the following actions:
- caution or reprimand
- give a direction – an instruction to take a particular action within a specified time
- undertakings – a direction requiring the person to agree to operate in a certain manner
- monetary penalty – impose a penalty of no more than $11,000 for an individual, and $22,000 for a corporation
- licence condition – impose a condition on the licence, for example, a condition that prevents the holder from performing certain functions
- licence suspension – suspend a licence for a period no longer than the unexpired term of the licence
- licence cancellation
- disqualification – declare a person as disqualified from holding a licence/certificate under the Act, either permanently or for a set period of time
- disqualification from management – disqualify a person from being involved in directing, managing or conducting the business of a licensee
- public warnings – where urgent action is needed to protect consumers from significant loss or harm, the Secretary may issue, where public risk is immediate, a public warning alerting consumers to the risks of dealing with a particular person
- appoint managers and receivers – a manager can be appointed to carry on the business of an agent whose licence has been suspended or cancelled or who is no longer able to properly manage the business, to prevent disadvantage to existing clients. Also, in a range of cases, including where a licence has been suspended or cancelled, or where a failure to account is suspected, the Secretary may apply to the Supreme Court to appoint a receiver.