VIC Conveyancer Invoice Dispute

Australia's #1 for Law
Join 150,000 Australians every month. Ask a question, respond to a question and better understand the law today!
FREE - Join Now

Muzz

Member
23 April 2020
3
0
1
Hi all. Long read, I am sorry, thank you in advance.

My property ( I am the vendor ) went up for sale, as you do I contacted a conveyancer to do the usual things they do. First time my property when up on sale it was a sale by private treaty. Authority to act letter from the conveyancer stated the fee and the stipulation of monies paid in the event of a non-sale due to buyers finance falling through, vendor withdrawing property from the market- 300$ inclusive of GST. this covered work to date it read.

Property did not sell, we were going on a holiday, agent said take it off the market and we’ll relaunch in a few months time. We did just that- property was removed, my conveyancer never invoiced me.

Few months later, we re-launch, property is on the market, this time it is going to Auction, so I get in contact with the same conveyancer and update them. No problem, I am advised an extra fee of 400$ is payable for the auction contracts and that work will not commence until I agree. I agree.

Property does not sell, I remove property from the market. I receive an invoice from conveyancer for 2.2k. My eyeballs pop out and almost lasso around my cranium.

I question the invoice and refer them to the original auth to act letter, and 400$ extra price. I am met with verbal abuse, threatening me with caveats and all sorts of things.

I questioned why the 1st section 32 prepared a fee of 279$ was listed (inc gst) whilst the second sect32 was listed at 950$, plus 300$ contract prep fee. Also questioned why the agreed price has more than doubled.

Again I was met with abuse. I asked them for invoices for the certificates they paid on my behalf, so I can reimburse that portion of the invoice, I also asked why I wasn’t notified they were purchasing express documents when they weren’t required.

I was met with more abuse and told over the phone they don’t require to send me anything. Pay the invoice- it is correct- OR else.

Emailed them back and forth a few times just trying to get them to explain the pricing, asked again for the invoices for certificates, all my requests were ignored, I was mocked, and then in the last email I was told to stop emailing them as the file is now with their barrister.

So I waited for contact from their legal team, nothing. Then a week later (today) I receive another email from the conveyancer, formally telling me to pay or else legal proceedings will begin. They have given me 1 week to pay the invoice, or else a caveat will be placed on my property, I will be up for any legal fees they incur and interest may be charged on the invoice.

I have all correspondence with the conveyancer, every single email, every single price that was agreed. And whilst going through all my emails I have received and sent, one email caught my attention.

I never printed off, signed and sent back the Authority to act email she sent me. Now I’m not trying to not pay, however if I never signed and consented, has she got no legal leg to stand on?

Mind you all I wanted to do was pay the 300$ stipulation, the agreed 400$ work for auction, and I advised them that once they provide invoices and proof of where I authorized purchases on my behalf for certificates, I’d compensate them for that as well.

This wasn’t good enough? They want the 2.2k.

Can they legally go ahead and place a caveat on my title, when it is an unreasonable invoice. And if they do try place a caveat- will they require that authority to act letter signed by myself, giving them permission?

MANY MANY THANKS!
 

Rod

Lawyer
LawTap Verified
27 May 2014
6,591
915
2,894
an they legally go ahead and place a caveat on my title
Depends. Did you sign any agreement, either first time or second time, giving them that right?
 

Muzz

Member
23 April 2020
3
0
1
Depends. Did you sign any agreement, either first time or second time, giving them that right?
I havent signed anything with them in terms of paper work, not the first time and not the second time. And definitely nothing giving them the right to caveat my title.
 

Rod

Lawyer
LawTap Verified
27 May 2014
6,591
915
2,894
Then it is unlikely they are justified in placing a caveat. If they place one you can demand its withdrawal and go to court if necessary.
 

Tim W

Lawyer
LawTap Verified
28 April 2014
3,576
693
2,894
Sydney
In commercial disputes (which is what this is, really),
people often threaten to put caveats on people's houses,
as some sort of half-baked attempt to intimidate them
into paying a disputed bill.

It's almost always an empty threat.
A licensed conveyancer should know better.

First things first.
Understand that you're past the DIY stage here.

Next, don't panic.
Then, sack your agent. Formally, in a letter.

Next, book an appointment with a lawyer who will do this properly.
@Rod's one of several Victorian lawyers here who will look after you properly.
Have a look at our LawTap service for others.

Your lawyer will help you make them an offer in writing
of some amount in full and final settlement.

Then, when they refuse it, your lawyer will help you take 'em to VCAT,
where, among other things, the onus will be on them
to explain why they refused the above offer.

As to it "being with their barrister".... I doubt it.
Even if that was true, it would probably cost them more than the disputed amount to engage one,
let alone have them do anything.
 

Muzz

Member
23 April 2020
3
0
1
Thank you so much for the replies.

Since I never signed an authority to act letter with this conveyancer, do I still need to formally fire them?

The whole ordeal had be a bit shaken up to be honest.

Tomorrow with a clear level head I will take your advice and contact Rod.

Many thanks
 

Tim W

Lawyer
LawTap Verified
28 April 2014
3,576
693
2,894
Sydney
Since I never signed an authority to act letter with this conveyancer, do I still need to formally fire them?
Yes, in order to be quite clear that you no longer want them to act for you.
Not because they are evil - but because they're not doing a good enough job.
(lawyers say "for avoidance of doubt")

Being shaken up is fair enough.
After all, this is one of the biggest transactions of your life,
and it went wrong.