“And now, here’s Jacquie to teach us how to play the flute.”
“Yes, well you blow in one end, and move your fingers up and down on the outside.”
“Thanks Jacquie, that was great!”
(Monty Python skit in which radio listeners are taught to play the flute in one easy lesson.)
In their promotional material, conveyancing kit-writers don’t emphasise that those who use the kit will still have to pay for rate and planning certificates, title searches, postage, transport to settlement, etc.
There is also an assumption that kit-users have plenty of spare time, and that their time is of no value. Otherwise, the amount of time needed for reading and learning about conveyancing has to be taken into account.
Manuals & Mechanics
A conveyancing kit is really a simple step-by-step “how to do it” manual, similar to the “do-it-yourself” manuals for motor cars, available in K-Mart and auto shops.
Do-it-yourself manuals are great for those who want to pull their motor cars apart on a regular basis, are prepared to learn by mistakes, and accept full responsibility for things that go wrong.
Although there are numerous brands of motor car repair manuals on the market, the majority of people still have a qualified mechanic attend to major repairs. This is because step-by-step manuals don’t allow for stumbles. If something doesn’t fit the pattern of steps in the manual things can go terribly wrong.
When things go wrong, someone has to take responsibility. Most people do not want to accept the level of responsibility involved in major car repairs, or the sale or purchase of a major real estate asset.
Quoting The Kit
Many people who use conveyancing kits fall into the trap of regarding them as Law Books, or Acts of Parliament, and they try to quote from them if a dispute arises. It is when things get to this point that frustration develops, not only on the part of a lawyer, but also the kit-user who has no reliable point of reference.
For example, a popular conveyancing kit tells users that certain conditions should be simply “crossed out”, because the kit producers say they are unfair to the a purchaser. The problem for the kit-user is that a vendor may have the option of selling to the kit-user or to someone else. If the kit-user insists on conditions being “crossed out”, the property may well be sold to someone else. Unfortunately, the kit-user doesn’t know the significance of the conditions, and the kit-makers aren’t in a position to negotiate for the user.
Whether the kit-user or the kit-makers like it or not, lawyers will not accept quotations from conveyancing kits as reasons for adding, changing or crossing out conditions in contracts. (This is but one example of this problem – there are many, many more!)
As mentioned above, responsibility is one of the key issues for those who use conveyancing kits.
A very interesting comment appears on the back of one conveyancing kit:
“…it puts YOU in control of your conveyancing, instead of someone else whose negligence could cost you.”
Two points have to be made about this rather amazing assertion:
First, the comment appears to be directed at conveyancers. This is because lawyers carry professional indemnity insurance to protect clients against negligence on the part of a lawyer in such circumstances, including negligent legal advice, and negligent legal work. conveyancers, on the other hand, are covered only for clerical errors.
Second, it assumes that the kit will elevate the individual to a position where their personal control will prevent carelessness, clerical errors and the results of inexperience. One need only compare the size of the average conveyancing kit with the combined size of the Sale of Land Act, Transfer of Land Act, and other relevant Acts, conveyancing law services and texts, and regular updates and articles on conveyancing to see that a kit of 200 pages or less is making a rather bold claim!
A further claim is equally alarming:
“…it increases your safety by making you a well informed real estate buyer or seller.”
If safety is increased by avoiding legal assistance in completing a conveyancing transaction, one wonders what the “safety” starting point is.
Kits & High Blood Pressure
Conveyancing lawyers often ask themselves why they do it. The risks and responsibilities are high, and finishing a conveyancing transaction, without penalty interest or costly delays is regarded as unexceptional.
Even if there have been major problems, solving them and achieving timely settlement is not seen as a major victory for justice.
However, there are not many conveyancing matters that proceed from start to finish without the need for some form of intervention or corrective measure required to “head-off” potential problems.
It is true, that some people can do their own conveyancing, and complete it without a moment’s worry; either because everything falls neatly into place, or because they naively blunder along, oblivious to dangers that fail to materialise.
For many, however, conveyancing can involve the terror of wondering “what if this happens” or “what else can go wrong”. For most, the stress and strain of do-it-yourself is simply not worth it.
Just Another Cost To Add On
Many of those who start out using a conveyancing-kit find that it is just too much to handle; the responsibilities are too great, the potential for trouble is ever present, and engaging a lawyer to do the lot is really the cheapest, safest, and most sensible way go.
If a kit-user gets to this point, the conveyancing kit has just become one more cost to add to the total cost of the conveyancing.