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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2529 ..

Thursday, 26 June 2003

The Assembly met at 10.30 am.

(Quorum formed.)

MR SPEAKER (Mr Berry) took the chair and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Civil Law (Sale of Residential Property) Bill 2003

Mr Stanhope

, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by acting clerk.


(Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for the Environment) (10.33): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

The Civil Law (Sale of Residential Property) Bill 2003 establishes a new process for making and exchanging contracts for the sale of residential property in the ACT. The bill is designed to reduce significantly the incidence of the unethical practice of gazumping and provide increased levels of consumer protection for both buyers and sellers of residential property.

Gazumping occurs when a seller breaks their promise to sell a property to a buyer after they've orally accepted the buyer's offer. In other words, a buyer cannot be gazumped unless the seller has accepted the buyer's offer, and the seller subsequently accepts a higher offer from another buyer. It is this practice that this bill aims to prevent.

My government is not proposing to create an offence of gazumping. Rather, the bill addresses the clear factors in the sale process that lead to sellers being able to gazump. In particular, the bill aims to close the window of opportunity that currently exists between the time phase to conclude an oral agreement to sell a property and the signing and exchange of a binding, written contract.

The government has consulted with major stakeholders, including the ACT Law Society, the Real Estate Institute of the ACT, the ACT Revenue Office and the Consumer Law Centre and developed a solution that balances the rights of both buyers and sellers. In particular, I'd like to thank the members of the Law Society Property Law Committee and the executive committee of the Real Estate Institute, who gave generously of their time, expertise and vast experience to the development of this bill.

To design an effective solution, the government has examined the conveyancing processes of other jurisdictions to see how they have dealt with this problem. The solution that this bill proposes is an amalgamation of the best features of the Queensland, South Australian, and New South Wales conveyancing systems.

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