New measures say it should be deposited into specialized accounts.
Effective 1 August 2011, lawyers will be prohibited from receiving and holding any conveyancing money, unless the conveyancing money is deposited:
- Into a new type of account called a conveyancing account that can only be opened with any of the five Appointed Banks, namely the Bank of China, DBS Bank, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation, The Bank of East Asia, and United Overseas Bank;
- With the Singapore Academy of Law (SAL) under its Conveyancing Money Service; or
- Into an escrow account jointly opened by lawyers acting for the respective parties.
According to the Ministry of Law, buyers / sellers who choose to have their lawyer hold their conveyancing money should deposit the money into the law firm’s conveyancing account. When making payment to the law firm’s conveyancing account by cheque, cashier’s order or bank draft, the clients should ensure that the payee name include the suffix, “-CVY” after the law firm’s name, that is, “Name of Law Firm-CVY”. Clients can also choose to use SAL’s Conveyancing Money Service to hold conveyancing money.
Meanwhile the Singapore Land Authority has set up an electronic Payment Instructions service to provide an efficient and secure electronic environment for lawyers to initiate and counter-sign payment instructions, and for the Appointed Banks and SAL to retrieve and process these payment instructions for withdrawal of conveyancing money from the conveyancing accounts or SAL. Lawyers signing or counter-signing forms though ePI will need to use their personal Netrust token to access the ePI and execute their digital signature.
Lawyers who contravene the prohibition may be fined up to $50,000 or imprisoned for a term not exceeding three years, or both. They may also face disciplinary proceedings under the Legal Profession Act.
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