Witnessing documents is now possible by video link!
Special measures for witnessing documents previously witnessed in person have been introduced due to COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic saw much of the world working remotely or behind closed doors. With the implementation of social distancing rules and our general desire to minimise contact with others meant that witnessing documents in the usual way became impractical.
Due to these limitations the New South Wales government have allowed for witnessing of critical documents via video link. The introduction of Regulation 17 of the Electronic Transactions Act 2000 allows the signing of documents to be witnessed by audio visual link. This applies to all documents covered by the New South Wales state laws such as wills, powers of attorney, enduring guardian appointments, deeds, affidavits, statutory declarations and agreements.
Although this new regulation was introduced due to COVID-19, we see this as a measure that will stay. Allowing documents to be witnessed via video link will allow us to interact with our clients from anywhere in the world and have these legal documents prepared and executed no matter where you are.
What is the process?
Both the client and the solicitor will use a video service platform to communicate. This can include FaceTime on an iPhone, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Houseparty or some other face-to-face web video conferencing program.
The solicitor must be satisfied that the document being signed is identical to the document the solicitor is to witness and the video must show the person signing the document. The witness can then sign a counterpart of the document or the document signed by the person can be scanned and emailed to the solicitor so that the solicitor can sign the electronic counterpart. It is still good practice for the witness to sign the original document as soon as practicable after execution of the document.
It is recommended that a recording is made of the video as evidence of execution of the document under the new law. However, it is an offence to record a meeting or conversation with another person without their consent, therefore all parties must consent before the video can be recorded.
If you have any questions about signing documents remotely please contact us.