We are creating some awesome events for you. Kindly bear with us.

Video tech for witnessing legal documents

New regulation announced by the governor allows witnessing of important legal documents like wills, powers of attorney and statutory declarations using video conferencing technology like Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime and Zoom.

NSW Attorney General, Mark Speakman, explained that the new regulation, temporary in effect during the COVID-19 pandemic, was made under section 17 of the Electronic Transactions Act. It has been implemented to help minimise physical person-to-person contact at this time.

Speakman said stressed the government’s priority is first the safety and wellbeing of NSW residents, “Thousands of legal documents are executed every day in the presence of one or more witnesses, but COVID-19 restrictions have made it difficult for many people to do so in person.”

With this in mind, the regulation has been made to allow a far safer way in which documents can be witnessed.

While the new regulation is in force, traditional methods of signing and witnessing documents are still allowed and are considered valid.

The regulation mandates that a witness must see the signing of a document by the signatory in real-time using video conferencing technology to verify the signature is legitimate.

In affirmation that the witness has seen the singing in real-time, the witness will sign the document or a copy of the document.

This witnessing can be done on a hard copy that has been scanned and sent to the witness. Alternately, the witness may sign an identical counterpart of the document that has been signed by the person having the document witnessed.

These changes will make it easier for people to stay home and reduce physical interactions, while still completing important transactions.

In order to ensure that the witnessing of NSW statutory declarations during COVID-19 continues smoothly and efficiently, the categories of people authorised to witness documents has been expanded in line with federal legislation.

While planning the new measures, a variety of stakeholders were consulted. Inputs were taken from the judiciary, the Law Society of NSW, the NSW Bar Association, Justice of the Peace associations and other relevant professional bodies were consulted on the changes.

The Government will continue to consult with stakeholders about options for allowing certain documents to be signed and executed electronically.

Send this to a friend