AIC National - Media
Comments by AIC National President Shane Jacob reported in The Sydney Morning Herald’s article titled “Conveyancers berate PEXA for 'stealing' clients” (source: Sydney Morning Herald April 25th by Tim Boreham HERE ) highlights the concerns of AICWA regarding the current lack of regulation that may otherwise see Electronic Lodgment Network Operators (ELNO’s) expand to offer traditional conveyancing services to both consumers and conveyancers.
PEXA’s SettleAssist pilot is an example of “Downstream Services” currently not regulated under the Model Operating Requirements (MOR), creating an opportunity for any Electronic Lodgment Network Operators (ELNO’s) such as PEXA to expand their service offerings.
The AICWA is not supportive of an ELNO providing “Downstream Services” as it contradicts the purpose for which the Electronic Lodgement Network (ELN) has been developed.
Rather than address what is an important omission, ARNECC’s recent proposed Draft (Version 5) of the MOR, under Rule 5.6 “Separation” provides for an ELNO to offer “Downstream Services” with further Rules such as 14.10 supporting an ELNO to act as a Subscriber. Such Rules contradict the intent of COAG’s e-Conveyancing initiative and do not have the support of the broader conveyancing industry.
The uncapped potential of “Downstream Services” could create unfair competition whereby an ELNO could subsidise their conveyancing services to compete in the conveyancing marketplace. Furthermore, an ELNO could benefit greatly from leveraging off multi-jurisdictional mandates where they operate either as monopoly or as a competing oligopoly. ARNECC must accept responsibility to ensure that such abuses of market power do not occur by limiting the services of ELNO’s based on the original concept of delivering a web based hub for conveyancers to utilise.
To the credit of PEXA’s CEO Marcus Price, he has responded quickly and decisively to assure the conveyancing industry that their motive in launching SettleAssist was not to compete on a national scale with conveyancers. “We have no interest in being a conveyancing firm, we are an enabler.” Mr Price said.
Nevertheless, Mr Price’s assurances are not supported by ARNECC’s proposed regulation that paves the way for any ELNO to expand their service offerings in such a way as to compete with conveyancers.
ARNECC as regulators should be focusing on supporting the conveyancing industry to transition to e-conveyancing with a long term outlook of sustainability for a profession that is focused on delivering independent unbiased advocacy for buyers and sellers in property settlements.
Source:27th April AICWA e-Newsletter
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