When Can Lawyers Or Conveyancers Act For Both Parties?

Posted on May 3, 2007 by | 0 Comments

Tim O'Dwyer M.A., LL.B OPINION
by Tim O’Dwyer M.A., LL.B
Consumer Advocate

Real Estate Encyclopedia


A junior journalist had a couple of questions about my paper “Should you act for both parties?” delivered at the Australian Institute of Conveyancers National Conference. “What’s conveyancing?” he asked. “And what’s the difference between conveyancers and solicitors?”

A pre-conference media release had assumed – mistakenly – that everyone knew conveyancing was the contract preparation, professional advice, negotiation, documentation and searches involved when you buy or sell real estate, and that conveyancers generally provide these same services in competition with solicitors – except in Queensland, Tasmania and the ACT. (My Victorian colleague Peter Mericka takes issue, of course, on what conveyancers may lawfully do in Victoria.)

Whether someone acts for a buyer, a seller or both at once, I told the conference, conveyancing isn’t newsworthy until mischief occurs. But there is a real risk of newsworthy mischief, I suggested, if you act for both parties in the same transaction. “Say no every time to ‘both parties’ conveyancing,” I said, “because mischievous conflicts of interests can arise.”

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