by Peter Mericka B.A., LL.B
Real Estate Lawyer
Qualified Practising Conveyancer Victoria
Director Lawyers Real Estate Pty Ltd
An Appeal To The Australian Institute Of Conveyancers (Victorian Division) (AICVIC)
The Australian Institute of Conveyancers (Victorian Division) Inc. (AICVIC) regards itself as the peak body representing licensed conveyancers in the state of Victoria, and it appears to have some influence over the way in which Victoria’s licensed conveyancers conduct themselves. I now make this plea to the new Committee of AICVIC: “Please, in the interests of all conveyancers, and consumers, take some responsibility for preventing the spread of corruption in the industry.”
The Oxford Dictionary defines corruption as “influenced by bribery…moral deterioration; use of corrupt practices (bribery etc.)“. My use of the terms “corrupt”, “corruption” and “client trafficking” refers to a practice whereby consumers seeking conveyancing services are directed to a conveyancer (which term includes unlicensed conveyancers, licensed conveyancers and lawyer conveyancers) by a third party on the basis of some benefit received or enjoyed by the third party. Usually, the third party is a real estate agent.
History of conveyancer corruption
Corruption in the conveyancing industry of Victoria has a very long history, and has become regarded in the industry as something of a standard operating procedure.
When conveyancers first sought to appropriate market share in the conveyancing industry, they did so by claiming that lawyers enjoyed a monopoly in the provision of conveyancing services, that non-lawyers are quite capable of conducting conveyancing transactions, and that allowing non-lawyers to offer conveyancing services would cause the cost of conveyancing to fall as the result of “competition” between lawyer conveyancers and non-lawyer conveyancers.
Nowadays, competition in the conveyancing industry has shifted from competition on the basis of conveyancing costs, to competition on the basis of “referral fees” paid to client traffickers.