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Brisbane's Leading Legal Support Services, Search and Settlement Agents.

Summary
  • Titles Office public counter closed. E-lodging and drop-box available (Brisbane city only). Expect delays and minor disruptions.
  • Banking services experiencing major disruptions. Special clearances suspended. Expect significant disruptions, branch closures, customer limits.
  • Settlements experiencing disruptions. Expect disruptions, delays and settlement location availability problems.
  • Court filing experiencing disruptions. Special arrangements in place dependant on court.

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Client update 31 March 2020

Here's a copy of our client update email of 31/3…

First of all, I hope this email update finds you and your family and friends well in this unbelievable time.

We know you’re getting bombarded with Covid-19 emails, and keeping up-to-date with changes is difficult, so we are trying only to bother you with critical info that affects our normal services.

Titles Office Counter Closure

You may have seen the email from the titles office just before 5.00pm yesterday, announcing immediate closure of their lodging counters.

We have adapted our procedures accordingly to lodge approved form types via e-lodging, effective immediately. You will not notice any major changes from our perspective - your invoices will still confirm lodging and show the dealing numbers allocated, and Registration Confirmation Statements will follow by email as per usual when they are received.

Non-approved forms (Form 6 Transmissions, Form 16 PoA, Survey Plans are the main examples) and requisitions already issued will be drop-boxed at DNRME daily in terms of their instructions. We’ll issue an invoice for the service, and then we’ll issue an update showing dealing numbers when we have received them back from the titles office.

You can see a list at this link of docs that we can e-lodge.

We are only able to lodge under our own lodger code, so for our clients that use their own lodger code, any lodgings sent to us will be lodged under our code. If you wish to use your own lodger code, you will not be able to send them to us.

If you have previously lodged any dealings under your own code that need finalising (eg requisitions), you can send them to us (normal fees apply for delivery to DNRME) and they should include a DropBox form and make sure you have complied with their requirements and sealed them in an envelope with your lodger name and code on the envelope. Otherwise, you can post them direct to the titles office. Link to DropBox form: Drop Box Lodgement Agreement.pdf.

An important issue that this closure presents is that of priority of dealings.

It’s now more important than ever for practitioners to ensure a Priority Notice (PNN) is recorded on title before you complete your transaction and send docs in for lodging. Cases could occur where a settlement has occurred, and docs are sent in for lodging or posted to DNRME direct, and in the mean time, an earlier doc posted before settlement has been in transit in the post and is then recorded on title after settlement but before your docs have been registered, preventing your docs form registering. Delays in the mail are expected and could result in uncertainty of title. A Priority Notice properly recorded and showing on your final search should alleviate the issues (excepting caveats and the like as per usual).

As approved e-lodgers, you can email us a clear scan of your Priority Notice and that is acceptable for lodging. This is the only document that can be lodged on a PDF - all others must be original wet-ink as per usual. We are also DNRME approved to sign PNN’s (only) as agent on your behalf.

Docs, including emailed PNN received by 9.00am will be lodged that morning. Docs received later will be lodged the next day in most cases. Priority services (fees apply) may be available for urgent lodgings received late subject to staffing availability.

Searches over the counter will also be effected. Our online access to titles office searches remains unchanged, but complex searches will take longer as we will have to order them over the phone. Where possible, we will now obtain your search direct via our online portal, rather than over the counter from DNRME direct.

Federal Circuit Court (Family Court) Filings

Filing of docs over the counter is no longer available, so you should arrange for all docs to be e-filed/emailed/posted direct to the Court per their instructions.

District & Supreme Court Filings

Drop-box services have been introduced at these counters, so we can drop them off, and then collect sealed docs when they are ready.

Genuine urgent filings are currently still available at the date of this email, but that may change.

Probates, initiating applications and affidavits will be drop boxed in the normal course.

If you have an urgent matter that has to be filed same day, please include details on your instructions and a letter to the Court requesting same and setting out the grounds.

Settlements

As you can imagine, tension is high and settlement agencies and practitioners and clerks are adapting to physical distancing and room person limits, which are causing delays. Thank you for your patience during this time for these events beyond our control. You are probably already well-aware and are already dealing with the banks and their agents limiting bookings which is causing logistical issues down the chain.

Collection of cheques before settlement and banking of cheques after settlement is an area that is experiencing disruption.

We’re doing our best to collect cheques in time for settlement as per usual, but we ask you to bear in mind that the bank branches are experiencing delays and cheques are not always ready. In general, we need to collect all cheques by 1.00pm at the latest so that we can match them with the settlement instructions and leave on our afternoon rounds at 1.45pm. If cheques are not ready by 1.00pm, we cannot guarantee that we can get back later, as settlements are experiencing delays and our clerks are not getting to leave settlement locations until after 4.00pm in a lot of cases, and that time is currently also blowing out.

The usual requirements for use of our trust account continues to apply - funds must be received in clear funds and your cheque drawing instructions received by midday at the latest. Our Bank is still doing fine as long as we have ordered cheques by midday. Cheques ordered after midday cannot be guaranteed to be available for settlement that afternoon.

Again, we appreciate your understanding of these logistical constraints.

Banking

Due to the delays mentioned above and how long our clerks are being kept at settlement locations, we are unable to guarantee that we can bank funds on the day of settlement, as the banks are closed by the time we are getting out of settlement in a lot of cases (eg SAI, FMS, Infotrack locations).

Cheques collected at settlement may now not be able to be banked until the next morning. Please bear this in mind so your client is not unexpectedly disappointed. If your clients mortgagee has the capability, you could direct surplus funds to them for crediting to the clients account, rather than drawing a seperate cheque.

Your help In minimising non-essential banking requests (eg real estate agents cheques) would also be helpful and appreciated at this time.

If you have an ongoing matter such as a retirement home purchase, please include these details and we’ll do our best to get to the bank or deliver the cheques on the same day. Please consider booking these types of settlements as early as possible, and perhaps between 11.00 and midday if at all possible so the chances of it getting completed in time are better.


We really do appreciate your understanding whilst we all adapt to these challenging times, and apologise for adding to your issues! We thank you for support and wish the very best to all.
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