by Tim O’Dwyer M.A., LL.B
Real estate consumer protection goes west as a result of a convoluted dog’s breakfast amendment to the law, according to Tim O’Dwyer.
Linda Lavarch MP noticed two Legal Aid lawyers sitting in the public gallery during a recent session of State Parliament. “They had tears in their eyes as the Attorney rose to speak,” she later told her parliamentary colleagues before explaining how these lawyers saw firsthand the misery caused by payday lenders’ interest rates. It was understandable, she said, that lawyers brought to tears by clients’ stories would be emotional over Attorney-General Kerry Shine’s Consumer Credit and Other Acts Amendment Bill which would limit the lenders’ charges.
Any conveyancing lawyers present would have also wept – less with joy over this long-overdue action, and more with despair over the betrayal of real estate consumers by the Bill’s unrelated amendment of Section 24 of the Legal Profession Act 2007.
While the Bligh government was effectively giving a green light to legally unqualified estate agents to continue to prepare legally binding contracts, the weepiest moment came when the Attorney-General said the amendment gave “certainty” to agents and solicitors regarding their “roles and responsibilities” within property transactions. Yet Mr Shine was aware of the inability of most agents to properly prepare contracts because his office had been briefed with examples of agents’ contractual recklessness, incompetence, ignorance and illiteracy.
The only “certainty” is that agents will continue to control the contracting process.