1 Aug 2011 Posted in Press releases
- New measures to safeguard conveyancing money will be implemented from 1 August 2011.
Lawyers cannot receive and hold conveyancing money unless under certain conditions
- Lawyers will be prohibited from receiving and holding any conveyancing money, unless the conveyancing money is deposited:
- Into a new type of account called a conveyancing account that can only be opened with any of the five Appointed Banks, namely the Bank of China, DBS Bank, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation, The Bank of East Asia, and United Overseas Bank;
- With the Singapore Academy of Law (SAL) under its Conveyancing Money Service; or
- Into an escrow account jointly opened by lawyers acting for the respective parties.
- Lawyers who contravene the prohibition may be fined up to $50,000 or imprisoned for a term not exceeding three years, or both. They may also face disciplinary proceedings under the Legal Profession Act.
Options for payment of conveyancing money
- Buyers / Sellers who choose to have their lawyer hold their conveyancing money should deposit the money into the law firm’s conveyancing account. When making payment to the law firm’s conveyancing account by cheque, cashier’s order or bank draft, the clients should ensure that the payee name include the suffix, “-CVY” after the law firm’s name, that is, “Name of Law Firm-CVY”.
- Clients can also choose to use SAL’s Conveyancing Money Service to hold conveyancing money.
Electronic Payment Instructions Service (ePI)
- The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) has set up an electronic Payment Instructions service (ePI) to provide an efficient and secure electronic environment for lawyers to initiate and counter-sign payment instructions, and for the Appointed Banks and SAL to retrieve and process these payment instructions for withdrawal of conveyancing money from the conveyancing accounts or SAL. Lawyers signing or counter-signing forms though ePI will need to use their personal Netrust token to access the ePI and execute their digital signature.
Extensive preparation has been conducted to ensure smooth implementation
- The Ministry of Law, in collaboration with various stakeholders, had embarked on several outreach activities to prepare lawyers for the implementation of the new measures:
- The Law Society has conducted and will continue to conduct briefings on the new measures and the use of ePI for law firms.
- An electronic test platform has been created for lawyers to access the ePI, and test the compatibility of their IT systems and use of their Netrust tokens to execute digital signature.
- The Ministry of Law and the Law Society have issued circulars, e-mail reminders and contacted law firms to try out the ePI and to open conveyancing accounts, if they intend to continue to receive and hold conveyancing money from 1 August 2011. Law firms can also use SAL’s Conveyancing Money Service.
- Stakeholders, including the Association of Banks in Singapore, Central Provident Fund Board (CPF Board), Council for Estate Agencies, Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS), Law Society and Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore have issued circulars to their respective stakeholders about the new measures and the necessary steps to ensure compliance.
- The Ministry of Law has also taken out advertorials in the major newspapers in four languages to inform the public about the new measures. Information posters have also been distributed for display at public locations such as Community Centres and Residents’ Committees’ notice boards. Information pamphlets are available to members of the public through real estate agents, lawyers and banks that provide housing loans.
- More information is available at the one-stop portal, https://www.mlaw.gov.sg/about-us/what-we-do/conveyancing/, where lawyers and members of the public can access useful resources such as:
- Legislative Guide explaining the key provisions of the legislation;
- List of Appointed Banks and their contact details;
- Indicative fees of the Appointed Banks, SAL and SLA’s ePI;
- Comparison of the services provided by SAL versus the Appointed Banks;
- Guidebook to help lawyers understand the operational steps necessary to comply with the new conveyancing regime;
- Frequently-asked questions; and
- Information pamphlets for buyer and sellers.
- An automated conveyancing hotline: 68381-CVY (6838 1289) has also been set up, with links to the hotlines of the various stakeholders: the Law Society, SAL, CPF Board, Housing and Development Board, IRAS and SLA, to enable callers to make enquiries of any stakeholder.
- With the new measures in place, clients’ money in conveyancing transactions will enjoy a higher standard of protection.
Last updated on 25 Nov 2012