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Conveyancing Resource Centre

Will conveyancing continue in or during a lockdown?

Since the advent of COVID-19, attention has been squarely placed on the question of whether buying or selling (or even settlement) will continue during regulated or forced lockdowns for public health emergencies.

Currently, there is no preclusion on buying or selling property in Queensland.

Settlement, on the other hand, is a much more complex question. The answer is that it really depends on your contract. In some cases, clients are seeking special conditions to cover public health emergencies, lockdowns or restrictions resulting from pandemics. On the other hand, depending on the type of contract and its version, there may also be provisions covering what is generally known as ‘delay events’. This can cover specific situations which may prevent someone from performing an obligation or otherwise preventing them from doing something (such as a pre-settlement inspection).

Further, currently, in Queensland (and subject to changes to the law) a legal practice remains an essential service, but physical distancing and mask-wearing requirements must be observed.

Conveyancing settlements also remain an ‘essential business, activity or undertaking’ and must be progressed. This is irrespective of whether it is an electronic or paper conveyance.

The Titles Office in Queensland also remains open to receive important documents such as transfers and the Office of State Revenue is open to perform its function, including collecting stamp duty.

In some rare cases, relevant contracts could be subject to force majeure clauses, which can be triggered by the ever-changing legalities surrounding COVID-19.

We understand the consequences of the current directive issued by the Queensland Government, whilst also balancing our obligation to represent clients with contracts on foot. This includes ensuring that we have special strategies in place if the law changes and categorises us as non-essential. For example, working from home and using specialised software to ensure the conveyancing can continue.

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