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Electronic Witnessing of Documents

  • By:Anderson Boemi
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Covid-19 has forced change in many areas of business, including in the legal profession.

Traditionally, rules for the signing (execution) of documents have required the signatory (i.e. the person signing the document) to sign in the physical presence of the witness (or witnesses). For example, in relation to will, the law required the will maker to sign the will in the presence of two witnesses who also sign the will there and then.

Lockdown, border restrictions and the need to protect members of the community have forced change.

New emergency measures have been introduced apply to the following documents:

  1. A will;
  2. A power of attorney or enduring power of attorney;
  3. A deed or agreement;
  4. An enduring guardianship appointment;
  5. An affidavit (including annexures); and
  6. A statutory declaration

Under the new emergency provisions, signing of these documents can now occur via audio visual link (AVL).

This means that we can use technology to observe a person sign a document by AVL and then ‘witness’ the document by signing a counterpart document or by signing a copy of the document that has been signed and then provided to the witness by scanning and email. There are other ways this can occur.

In relation to wills, matters are a little more complex but competent lawyers can give advice about these things as well.

The important thing to note is that you should not let matters slide just because of Covid-19. It is still important to get important documents signed – it can happen – just differently.

If you need assistance, give our office a call.

Posted in: Legal Consultation, Professional Lawyers


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