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Standard fact sheet.

Conducting a conveyancing business 

Requirements for conveyancers to carry out their business are set out in the Conveyancers Licensing Act 2003 (the Act) and Conveyancers Licensing Regulation 2015. The key requirements are explained below.

Supervising a conveyancing business 

Conveyancers are responsible for supervising the conveyancing business carried out 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. They 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.

This applies unless the Secretary exempts the licensee from following 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. The Conveyancers Licensing Regulation 2015 sets out matters considered in an exemption request.

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Employees 

A licensee is legally responsible for the work done by employees (section 30 of the Act).

Records of employees’ names and residential addresses must be kept and retained for at least 3 years after a person has stopped being an employee. A licensee must notify the Secretary in writing within 7 days if an employee is disqualified from doing conveyancing work - you can do this by using the Make an enquiry function on our website. For details on when an employee may be disqualified, refer to our Licensing requirements web page. 

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Rules of conduct 

Conveyancers must follow rules of conduct (in Schedule 3 of the Conveyancers Licensing Regulation 2015). These set the standard for their business dealings and ethical behaviour with consumers. This includes: 

  • 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.

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Business names 

A licensee who wants to conduct 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).

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Advertising 

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.

Licensee information in advertising

A licensee cannot have advertised anything related or connected to their business unless it includes the following:

  • if the licensee is an individual carrying on business in the licensee’s own name and is not a member of a partnership - the licensee’s name
  • if the licensee is an individual carrying on business under a business name registered under any Act relating to the registration of business names - either the licensee’s name or that business name
  • if the licensee carries on business as a member of a partnership - either the licensee’s name or the name of the partnership, or the name under which the partnership is registered under any Act relating to the registration of business names
  • if the licensee is a corporation and the corporation is carrying on business in its own name - the name of the corporation
  • if the licensee is a corporation and the corporation is carrying on business under a business name registered under any Act relating to the registration of business names - either its own name or that business name
  • the number of the licence.

The maximum penalty for breaching these provisions is $11,000.

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Changes to licence details 

If a licensee's name, address or other registered details change, NSW Fair Trading must receive written notice within 14 days. 

To complete a change of address form, please refer to our Property services forms web page.

For any other licence detail changes notify Fair Trading by emailing LB@finance.nsw.gov.au or write to:    

Property Licensing
NSW Fair Trading
Locked Bag 5104
Parramatta NSW 2124

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Disclosing interests 

Before carrying out any services, a conveyancer must let their client know in writing:

  • any beneficial interest the conveyancer may have in the transaction 
  • the basis of the costs for the conveyancing work to be done, including the amount of costs or basis for calculating costs 
  • the client's right to negotiate a costs agreement, receive bills and be advised of changes
  • client rights related to costs disputes heard by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (section 36).

If a conveyancer doesn't make these disclosures, this can result in their client not having to pay for the conveyancing work (section 41).

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Costs disputes 

Costs disputes are heard by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. Either the client or conveyancer can apply to the Tribunal within 60 days of the conveyancer delivering their bill or account to the client.

When notified of a costs dispute, the Tribunal may take any necessary action to resolve it. This could include referring the dispute to an independent expert to assess. If the parties reach an agreement, the Tribunal will make an order to give effect to it. If not, the matter will be heard and determined by the Tribunal.

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Accounting 

Conveyancers must follow certain requirements for trust accounts.

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 3 months of the audit period ending.

Licensed conveyancers should refer to the information at our Trust accounts and audit requirements page.

Record keeping 

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 7 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.

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Professional indemnity insurance 

All licensed conveyancers currently undertaking work should ensure 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.

A master policy of Professional Indemnity Insurance, approved by the Minister for Fair Trading, is available to members of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers (NSW Division). Details of the approved policy come under the Conveyancers Licensing Order 2006, which can be found at legislation.nsw.gov.au. This is the only current Professional Indemnity Insurance Policy for licensed conveyancers approved by the Minister.

Download a copy of the Commissioner's guidelines for approval of licensed conveyancer's professional indemnity insurance policies on the NSW Fair Trading website (PDF size 102kb)

For matters concerning membership and insurance coverage, conveyancers should enquire with the Australian Institute of Conveyancers at aicnsw.com.au

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