|Greg Stilianou has come on board as the new contributing author for Land Titles Office Practice NSW, a leading reference text to the practice of the New South Wales Registrar-General in administering property legislation.
A Senior Solicitor at Land and Property Information (LPI) at the Government of NSW for over nine years, Greg has a range of experience in providing advice and guidance on the operation of the NSW land titling system, the Water Access Licence Register, the General Register of Deeds, and other commercial activities of the LPI.
Greg is also the author of Land Titling Law and Practice in NSW, a practical handbook to assist lawyers and property professionals in registering land dealings and a key resource for practitioners working in the conveyancing field.
How do you see the field of land and property law changing or developing in the future? Have any particular areas become more or less significant during your time working in the field?
When I started working at LPI the practice of conveyancing and performing land transactions was exclusively conducted in a paper-based environment. The idea of electronic conveyancing becoming a reality was far-fetched, and custody of the certificate of title for land was paramount.
However, in the space of less than a decade, there has been a slow but steady transition from paper-based to electronic conveyancing. Soon it will be mandatory for classes of transactions to be performed electronically. The progressive phase out of paper certificates of title has also commenced. These legislative changes are a forecast for practitioners that the certificate of title will eventually become obsolete in a conveyancing transaction.
These changes impact the Land Title Office Practice NSW service. Since its inception, the service has dealt exclusively with paper-based land transactions being lodged for registration. As we transition towards electronic land transactions, my challenge as author will be to ensure that the service remains current and relevant for practitioners as the practice of conveyancing moves toward an electronic future.
How does your role with LPI influence your understanding of this area of law and practice, and your approach to providing commentary to the service?
I have been employed in the role of senior solicitor in the Legal Services team at LPI for over nine years. This role places me in a unique position at the forefront of examining land dealings and plans that are lodged for registration.
Not only does this give me the opportunity to see the various types of lodgments, it also provides insight into the common traps and mistakes that are made in these documents. It is those things that I have seen go wrong in a transaction that will ultimately shape much of the content that I write for the service. My aim is to address these issues and FAQs, to give practitioners greater confidence in undertaking a land transaction and interacting with LPI.
What approach do you plan to take as a new author for this service?
Since taking over writing for the service from my colleague Peter Blair, the greatest challenge has been keeping pace with the volume of legislative activity that has affected the area of land titling law and practice. The land titles office has enjoyed a relatively stable legal foundation for a long period of time. However, since late 2015 there has been a significant amount of change in the area.
For example, the Registrar-General’s Conveyancing Rules have been introduced, and there have been changes in the way in which lodgment fees are priced and structured, including the new requisition fee. Furthermore, there has been an operational and regulatory split in the functions of LPI and, later in 2016, the electronic Priority Notice will be introduced and a complete overhaul of the strata legislation will commence.
New content will be included and existing commentary revised to deal with those things that I have seen go wrong in land dealings and plans. After this, I will then be in a position to revise chapter content that would most benefit from review and may require greater insight into contemporary approaches to land titling law. The way in which lawyers research now is very different to past practices. Having the internet at our fingertips and in our pockets means we expect answers to our questions with a greater urgency than ever before. I will therefore focus on re-delivering existing content so that it is up-to-date, accurate and accessible.
What value do you feel the service provides to NSW practitioners?
Continuing the legacy of writing for this service is a responsibility that I do not take on lightly. From the first time that I read the service, I realised that it was a unique practice tool for lawyers who need to interact with a Government agency. There are many texts in the market that offer both legislative information and commentary on land law, but one of the reasons for the success of Land Titles Office Practice NSW is that it has had authorial contributions from practicing lawyers and officers who have worked at the land titles office, offering insights into land dealing and plan examination that only an employee of the agency could provide.
This service is not a trophy to sit unused in the library – it should be liberated from the shelf and regularly referenced on matters of practice. It is a good thing for a practitioner to know what the law is, but a great thing to know how the law operates in practice. This service offers both the legal knowledge and the “how to” for practitioners, and my goal is to continue the success of the service as a practical guide for successfully interacting with the land titles office.