Thursday, 07 April 2016 16:30

E-contracts save one lawyer up to 240,000 pages of paper per project

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240,000 pages of paper generated in high volume conveyancing projects. A ream of paper weighs 2.5kg so that’s 1.2 tonnes saved – per project. Each tonne of paper saves 20 fully-grown trees, 90,000 litres of water, and 1.2 tonnes of coal and chemicals – not to mention 8 tonnes of greenhouse gases.

Colin Biggers & Paisley, an Australian law firm with a focus on property development, did the sums and also decided that it could save both paper and thousands of paralegal hours by digitising its contracts with DocuSign.

With one of the largest project conveyancing groups in Australia, Colin Biggers & Paisley’s property development team is responsible for preparing and processing thousands of property sale contracts a year. During high volume conveyancing projects, the law firm will process sales of as many as 200 apartments in a day. With contracts averaging around 600 pages, and two copies of every contract required, it can result in up to 240,000 pages of contract documents being circulated in a single day.

“The amount of time and resources required to manage paper contracts during high volume conveyancing projects was staggering,” explained Mark Morgan, Partner, Colin Biggers & Paisley. With these enormous volumes of paper, the costs of printing, scanning, filing, archiving and couriers were running into hundreds of dollars per contract. On top of that, every contract needed to be manually checked and cross-checked by paralegals before and after contracts were entered into. This checking process required hundreds of staff hours and, due to time pressures on staff, there were constant concerns about staff growing tired and missing errors, such as pages being left out or details overlooked,” he said.

Using DocuSign’s digital transaction management technology CBP no longer needs to manually check each page in every document - once the master contract is set, it simply checks salient details. Purchasers can then read and sign the individual contracts on any internet device, no matter where they are in the world, and soft copies of completed and signed contracts are automatically available to all parties for download.

“Our staff time in the preparation of contracts and administration of the contract process is reduced by over 90%, and our hard costs of printing, scanning, filing, archiving and couriers are done away with all together. It’s completely changing the way we do business,” he added.

CBP made it clear it was not just a cost cutting exercise - contract security was a key driver. DocuSign technology ensures that a finalised contract is secure and cannot be changed without detection.

DocuSign’s Digital Transaction Management technology is obviously legal. DocuSign electronic signatures are valid and legally binding around the world. Australia and New Zealand have each passed an Electronic Transactions Act (effective in 2000 in Australia, 2002 in New Zealand), which establish the general rule that no transaction will be invalid simply because it was completed electronically. The Australian Act Section 10 - Signatures specifically relates to electronic signatures and states that its goals include facilitating the use of electronic transactions, and promoting business and community confidence in the use of electronic transactions.

Colin Biggers & Paisley has developed the DocuSign e-contract system for use in its NSW, Queensland and Victorian offices, with the goal to expand its use Australia wide in as short a time frame as possible. It has 60 partners and about 400 staff.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw [email protected]  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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