New South Wales has introduced temporary legislation to allow for electronic signing during the COVID-19 crises under the Electronic Transactions Amendment (COVID-19 Witnessing of Documents) Regulation 2020 by using Audio Visual Links.
What is an audio visual link?
An Audio Visual Link is often referred to as AVL and is simply any technology that enables a continuous and contemporaneous audio and visual communication between persons in different places. In reality AVL is simply video conferencing and using platforms that support this such as Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams and Facetime.
What does electronic signing actually mean?
Previously the signing of these documents had to be done in person.
You will not have to attend a solicitors office to sign these documents, of course there is nothing prohibiting you from doing so but these changes allow people who may not be comfortable or are vulnerable the opportunity to have there documents executed without attending in person.
Which Legal Documents are able to be signed electronically?
- a Will
- a power of attorney or an enduring power of attorney
- a deed or agreement
- an enduring guardianship appointment
- an affidavit, including an annexure or exhibit to the affidavit
- a statutory declaration.
What must occur for an electronic signature to be valid?
- Verify the witness’s identity
- The witness must observe the person signing the document in real time (video link)
- Attest or otherwise confirm the signature was witnessed by signing the document or a copy of the document
- You must be reasonably satisfied the document the witness signs is the same document, or a copy of the document signed by the signatory
- Endorse the document or the copy of the document, with a statement such as “the document was signed in counterpart and witnessed over audio visual link in accordance with clause 2 of Schedule 1 to the Electronic Transactions Regulation 2017.”
How will electronic signing actually occur?
There are two different methods that can be used:
- The witness signs the document, or a copy of the document to confirm they witnessed the signature. This can be done on a hard copy that is then scanned and sent to the witness for signature. The original is then sent to the solicitor for storage.
- The witness and solicitor sign an identical counterpart document and the original is sent to the solicitor for storage.
Is this the new norm?
No, the legislation will be reviewed in six months’ time and repealed between six months to a year from now depending on the COVID-19 situation.
How can we help you?
Catron Simmons Lawyers continues to be able to deliver legal documents throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, this change in the regulations means only goes to assist in social distancing.
We are here to discuss any concerns or needs you have in relation to estate planning, feel free to contact Alicia Catron (0407 171 626) or Michelle Simmons (0407 534 594) or via email on [email protected].