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Real Estate Standards

Complete Real Estate standards (PDF package - current to January 20, 2017) 

Preface

Never before have there been greater professional demands on the real estate lawyer. Lawyers are expected to have ever more efficient processes. There are constant demands for our time from all of the participants in a real estate transaction - clients, agents, lenders, surveyors and title insurers. We need time to review agreements, draft documents, review title abstracts, prepare opinions, deal with title objections, and supervise staff. Once the closing has been successfully completed, the demands on our time do not end - there are the reports to clients, lenders, and the fulfilment of undertakings to other lawyers. At the heart of all these demands, the real estate lawyer daily strives to achieve a balance between the business efficiencies sought to be achieved, and the fulfilment of professional obligations.

In 1994 the Standards Committee of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society unveiled Practice Standards for real property transactions in Nova Scotia. Those Standards were declared to be a “living” document which would change with the changes in practice. The change to real estate practice with the implementation of the Land Registration Act is one such change. Yet in a way, the new Act is but an embodiment of the way in which real estate lawyers have served the public for over 250 years. Over time as land was conveyed, lawyers carefully reviewed the state of title and in so doing became the weavers of the historical fabric preserved in the Registries of Deeds. It is that fabric that is to be enhanced in the new system. We have been the keepers of the old system and are afforded the privilege of having a unique role in the new one to ensure that the quality and integrity of information we have so long worked to improve, is preserved for the future.

One of the underlying tenets of professional responsibility in the new land title system is the exercise of professional judgment. This is not a new responsibility, but it is one that bears a careful re-examination and review in light of the new legislation. These Professional Standards provide guidance and clarification of the principal elements inherent in the exercise of professional judgment. They are not confined, as in the past, to being a reflection of existing practices, but also incorporate new elements that will now be required for lawyers practising under the Land Registration Act. At the same time, the Standards are intended to be a practical tool to assist lawyers in the demands of their practices to achieve the balance sought. Access to common law authorities and academic and conference materials will be maintained so that there is always current information available to assist with interpretation and application. To further assist members in using them, they will be available in both paper and electronic format.

These Standards could not have been developed without the concerted effort of many. It has been a privilege for me to work with the members of the Professional Standards Committee and the many practitioners who have provided the benefit of their years of experience and their varied practices to support the development of Standards that have a profession and province - wide application. As a profession it is hoped that we will be strengthened by their work.

As lawyers, we may be widely divergent in the ways in which we exercise professional judgment. However, it is my hope that as we move forward, these Standards will be “live” enough to help us respond in a professional fashion to the demands on our practices in these changing times and to ensure that neither the quality of our practices nor our ethics will be compromised.