20 April 2020
Juwairiyah Binte Yasin and Cannis Seng
One would have thought that with the implementation of the circuit breaker measures, conveyancing transactions would have come to a stand-still as a lot of the procedures involved physical interactions such as the issuance of cheques and cashiers’ orders, signing of documents, and the final completion itself. However with technology and the co-operation of various parties, conveyancing transactions can proceed as scheduled.
Where previously correspondence was done through letters, faxes and email, communication during the “lockdown period” is now done primarily via email, telephone/video calls, and teleconferencing. There are a myriad of applications that can be used to facilitate communication, including WhatsApp, Zoom and Skype, just to name a few. It helps that practically everyone owns a handphone and a computer.
A particular issue in conveyancing is the signing of documents as it usually requires the signor to sign before a lawyer. This problem is solved by the lawyer witnessing the signor’s signing via videoconference, with the necessary and appropriate checks in place. The original signed documents are then mailed over to the law firm for the witness to sign. However, do note that witnessing of documents before lawyers by way of videoconference can only be done locally, and not across jurisdictions.
In a typical property sale and purchase transaction, the seller usually must discharge the existing mortgage and/or CPF charge. This procedure has been simplified by the Singapore Land Authority (“SLA”) as discharge documents are done online and encrypted by the relevant parties using e-tokens. Due to the circuit breaker measures, SLA extended the period to submit the hardcopy documents for a month.
Payments of the purchase price are usually made by way of cashiers’ orders as it has proven to be a secure method of payment. During the “lockdown period”, parties may choose to pay electronically by way of telegraphic transfer. However, buyers should take precautions when remitting funds electronically as there have been scams where a scammer impersonates the solicitor.
For example if the firm’s name is firstname.lastname@example.org, a scammer could use email@example.com. The scammer, impersonating the lawyer, can then send emails to the client to send funds via telegraphic transfer to the scammer’s account.
It is thus prudent to check the email address and the account number carefully followed by a telephone conversation with the lawyer confirming the details.
COVID-19 has accelerated the use of technology during these challenging times. The sale and purchase of a property does not need to come to a halt even though we must stay at home and telecommute in business dealings. Completion is possible not only with technology, but also the co-ordinated efforts of all parties involved in the transaction – the buyers, sellers, bankers, SLA, and tech-savvy lawyers.
Juwairiyah Binte Yasin
Consultant, BR Law Corporation
Associate Director, BR Law Corporation
Post date. Edit this to change the date post was posted. Does not show up on published site. 20/4/2020
The materials in these articles have been prepared for general informational purposes only and are not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel. If you require legal advice for your particular circumstances, please consult a suitably qualified legal counsel. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. You should not rely or act upon this information without seeking professional counsel. Whilst we endeavour to ensure that the information in these articles is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and we do not accept any liability for error or omission.
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