Fairness From NSW Office of Fair Trading? It’s Problematic!

Posted on July 5, 2010 by | 7 Comments

Peter Mericka B.A., LL.Bby Peter Mericka B.A., LL.B
Real Estate Lawyer
Qualified Practising Conveyancer Victoria
Director Lawyers Real Estate Pty Ltd

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After experiencing first hand the legal knowledge and reasoning of Mr. Robert Guthrie, Acting Manager, Licensing for the New South Wales Office of Fair Trading, I have written a comedy script for the ABC’s 7.30 Report. The script is based on a letter penned by Mr. Guthrie concerning the operations of Lawyers Real Estate.New South Wales Office of Fair Trading Property Services Licensing

Lawyers Real Estate featured in a segment on Channel 7’s Today Tonight program on Friday 25 June, 2010, and there has been an overwhelming response from lawyers who are interested in establishing Lawyers Real Estate franchises in New South Wales.

A couple of enquirers have asked about the reaction of the NSW Office of Fair Trading to the Lawyers Real Estate concept, having seen how Consumer Affairs Victoria was forced into a humiliating back-down. (Click on the link above to view the full Today Tonight segment).

Unfortunately, like his Victorian counterpart, Mr. Guthrie appears not to have sought legal advice, and has clearly failed to properly inform himself as to the application of the laws of New South Wales to the Lawyers Real Estate concept. In a letter to the Director, Industry Training Consultants (a Sydney real estate agent training business), Mr. Guthrie demonstrated the way ignorance, combined with pride, can lead to absurdity. (To read a copy of the NSW OFT letter CLICK HERE)

The following script is how I would expect an interview with Mr. Guthrie would unfold…

More about “Fairness From NSW Office of Fair Trading? It’s Problematic!”…


  • http:// says:

    Future Directions in Conveyancing by Dan O’Keefe Legal Academic: 29th September, 1996


    Dear Peter,

    Here is an excerpt taken from that document link, which is very very interesting.

    Property Workshops

    “As conveyancing legislation, practice and markets evolve, many solicitors have felt threatened by what they see as an inevitable incursion into traditional areas of work for lawyers. Some have taken the lead from overseas jurisdictions and become involved in
    the business of real estate marketing. The involvement is by no means new and is not confined to high profile operations, but recent developments have seen it become an issue of major concern
    to members of the Society.

    Scotland is often cited as an example of the “one stop property shop” concept in action. Apparently some 70 % of transactions are handled by
    such businesses. However, the law societies of England and Wales, Ireland, New Zealand and Ontario, Canada have permitted their solicitors to
    be involved in the sale of real estate and some actively encourage their participation. The Law Institute of Victoria has approved a solicitor
    practising as a solicitor and also as an estate agent provided that he follows certain guidelines including maintaining separate trust accounts for the

    Any serious consideration of property shops is clouded by what is seen as the competing interests of solicitors and real estate agents. At various times
    recently there have been proposal for “property shops” to be set up that provide both conveyancing and real estate agency services. In December,
    1989 the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales claimed that it would be establishing “its own conveyancing facility early in the new year”.That
    claim has not yet been fulfilled and it may be that the the Real Estate Institute has reversed its attitude.

    The Law Society of NSW has indicated that it takes the view that the selling of real estate is best left to real estate agents. This is an appropriate attitude
    for the Law Society to take because it is possible that the introduction of property shops would not increase or decrease the involvement of solicitors or real estate agents in conveyancing transactions. Any property shops established would have both solicitors and real estate agents as directors and shareholders.

    Advocates of property shops suggest that agents have a difficulty in acting for the vendor when they have such intimate contact with the purchaser:-

    “The whole basis of Solicitors Property Services is that the interests of the general public will be better served by an agency owned by solicitors using qualified real estate specialists with proven

    By gaining control of the client at the first point of contact and introducing solicitors’ ethical principles to the whole real estate transfer process, members of Solicitors Property Services believe they have a tremendous opportunity to prosper by giving an
    improved and complete real estate service.

    This would appear to be an interesting comment as it is based on ethical principles. Occasionally solicitor find themselves in a conflict situation if the
    one firm acts for both vendor and purchaser and a dispute erupts. The firm of solicitor must then refer both the vendor and the purchaser to other
    solicitors so that they may have the benefit of independent advice. Surely the potential for a conflict of interest is increased if the real estate agent,
    solicitor for the vendor and perhaps solicitor for the purchaser are all represented by the one firm.

    It is submitted that property shops are only an alternative method of servicing the public and it does not follow that their introduction in N.S.W.
    would necessarily improve the conveyancing system. Solicitors and real estate agents should not confuse the discussion of the future direction of conveyancing by making threats in relation to the delivery of real estate services.

  • Hi George,

    For the sake of transparency, it should be acknowledged that you train real estate agents, and you are the person whom Mr. Guthrie’s letter was addressed.

    You have quoted a large slab of text, but unfortunately, it appears to have no relevance at all to the issues under discussion or to the adoption of the Lawyers Real Estate concept by NSW lawyers.

  • http:// says:

    Hi Peter,

    I don’t think you’ll hear from Robert Gutherie or the Office Of Fair Trading. I’m just having a bit of fun with you, like you do with me.

    You quoted the words “Fairness From NSW Office of Fair Trading? It’s Problematic!. I thought what was in the large slab of text, was a good example of why it could be problematic.

    And finally, thanks for PLUG !!!!


  • Hi George,

    I would love to be an observer while you and Robert Guthrie discuss property law etc. It’d be like listening to Derek & Clive (minus the obscentities).

  • http:// says:

    guthry and ruousos as derek and clive. love it!!!!

  • http:// says:

    Wait til we get them on the hop in Queensland. Problematic is going to be a well worn word.

  • http:// says:

    I know that I will not win friends with this but here goes. I have been a real estate agent for a number of years now and I do not think I will be one for that much longer because I can not stand the lies and cheating that is always going on. All I ever hear from senior agents is condition the vendor condition the vendor constantly and get them while there on the boil. To me the whole industry is problematic and the sooner someone can fix it the better. I will certainly be looking at a franchise oppertunithy when it comes up.

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