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A new digital economy

Electronic transaction reform
The COVID-19 lockdown has highlighted century-old regulations slowing down commerce. The ABA is currently working to enable people to get a mortgage and do business digitally, including using electronic signatures.

Governments have enacted emergency regulations during the pandemic to allow essential transactions to occur electronically. Those changes should stay for the benefit and convenience of people and businesses.

Customer benefits: e-transactions & e-signatures

  • Faster turnaround times
  • Accessibility options for people with disabilities
  • Additional security features
  • Convenience and less runaround

Electronic transactions

The need for ink signatures and for documents to be witnessed in person have created delays and other difficulties for people and businesses. This includes difficulties in having documents witnessed in person, delays in receiving documents by post, and signing documents while in quarantine. Many of these delays and costs were exacerbated by, but not limited to the pandemic.

Key changes sought: e-transactions

  • Deeds should be able to be created and signed electronically.
  • Electronic signatures rather than paper signatures should be able to be used for a broader range of legal and business documents.
  • Remote witnessing should be legally valid.
  • Emergency changes should be made permanent.

Reforms in progress: e-transactions

Government Emergency legislation
enabling reforms
Emergency
reforms
Permanent
reforms
CommonwealthYesYesNo
VICYesYesNo
QLDYesYesNo
NSWYesSomeNo
SAYesNoNo
TASYesNoNo
WANoNoNo
ACTNoNoNo
NTNoNoNo
  • The Commonwealth Treasurer has issued a determination that allows split electronic execution of company documents.
  • NSW has passed emergency regulations allowing documents to be witnessed remotely, and has legislation that enables broader reforms including electronic deeds.  
  • Victoria and Queensland have passed emergency regulations to allow electronic signing and remote witnessing for all documents, including deeds and mortgages.
  • South Australia and Tasmania have passed emergency legislation, but are yet to implement e-transactions changes.
The Federal Government has extended temporary relief to the Corporations Act until 21 March, 2021. Other State changes will currently expire between October and November. The ABA and our coalition partners are calling on the Commonwealth and State Governments to make these changes permanent.


Paperless mortgages

Mortgages can be electronically lodged with the land registry in many states. However, paper signature and in-person witnessing is still required for the counterpart mortgage: the copy of the mortgage kept by the bank and not lodged with the registry. The regulations vary between states and territories.

As society returns to business as usual, enabling banks to offer fully paperless mortgages as a normal business practice will create economic efficiencies and make banking more efficient for people and businesses.


Key changes sought: paperless mortgages

  • Removing the requirement for the counter-mortgage to be signed by both mortgagor and mortgagee.
  • Removing the requirement for signatures to be witnessed.

Reforms in progress: paperless mortgages

  • A number of State (NSW, QLD, SA and WA) land registrars have temporarily allowed electronic signing and lodgement of documents.
  • The ABA is working to ensure the counterpart or corresponding mortgage can also be fully electronic.
Jennifer Westacott, CEO BCA
“To manage this crisis governments acted quickly to suspend outdated, unnecessary and job-killing red tape that was making it harder to do business.”
Jennifer Westacott, CEO BCA
Sally Loane, CEO FSC
“Providing consumers with the permanent option to conduct transactions entirely electronically… would be a huge efficiency gain for consumers.”
Sally Loane, CEO FSC
Angus Armour, CEO AICD
“This is the opportunity to push our governance and business rules into the 21st century with more digital friendly settings.”
Angus Armour, CEO AICD
Tim McKibbin, CEO REINSW
“The pre-Covid-19 legislative restraints imposed on signing, witnessing and/or lodging some documents electronically is unjustified.”
Tim McKibbin, CEO REINSW
Amelia Hodge, CEO API
“We’ve all accelerated implementation of digital solutions during the COVID-19 crisis so let’s bring that same approach to buying a home, permanently.”
Amelia Hodge, CEO API
Brad Newton Vice President of APAC, DocuSign
“When compared to a wet signature, eSignatures are undoubtebly more secure.”
Brad Newton Vice President of APAC, DocuSign
Michael Lawrence, CEO COBA
“Customers always come first and the shift in customer preferences to transact digitally has accelerated due to the COVID-19 crisis.”
Michael Lawrence, CEO COBA
Adrian Kelly, President, REIA
“The amendments required whilst simple will improve efficiency and productivity in transactions within the property industry.”
Adrian Kelly, President, REIA
Diane Tate, CEO AFIA
“…will lead to a more efficient, modern and sustainable Australian economy and a faster acceleration recovery from the crisis.”
Diane Tate, CEO AFIA

Partners in reform

 

AICD logo

Docusign logo

COBA logo

REIA logo

AFIA logo

Legal partners in reform


Allens logoAshurst logoFreehills logoKWM logo
Norton Rose Fulbright logo

Quotes: what our partners in reform are saying. Electronic transactions and mortgages should be here to stay.

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