COVID-19 Series: Remote Witnessing

Alongside the existing e-contracts and e-signing, there have been legislative responses to COVID-19 social distancing that have allowed e-witnessing.

For the duration of the pandemic (as declared by the government in the relevant jurisdiction), a document that is required to be witnessed under NSW and ACT law may temporarily be witnessed remotely, by a system of communication that allows each user to see and hear the other.

The witness must observe the signing through the system of communication and sign a copy of the document in real time and the witnessing requirements are taken to be satisfied.

Following this, the witness can sign the document or a copy of the document as soon as possible.

Documents can also be certified, sworn and attested using such a system.

Please get in contact if you need assistance with execution of documents in the ACT including the following:

  • affidavits
  • health directions
  • wills
  • general Powers of Attorney
  • enduring Powers of Attorney

Each jurisdiction is different so you must review the COVID-19 regulations that apply to you and determine whether you can use remote witnessing for your document.

NSW has passed legislation allowing for remote witnessing of these types of documents and also deeds or agreements, and statutory declarations. Note that legislation now permits deeds to be signed electronically in NSW.

Queensland has passed similar legislation allowing the electronic signing and remote witnessing for deeds, general powers of attorney, mortgages , affidavits, wills and enduring powers of attorney. At this stage, these allowances are limited to the duration of the pandemic.

Victoria has implemented COVID-19 legislation expiring on 24 October 2020 allowing deeds, mortgages, wills, statutory declarations, general powers of attorney and enduring powers of attorney to be witnessed remotely and signed electronically. Affidavits can also be signed electronically and remotely under earlier legislation.

Western Australia has not implemented electronic signing or remote witnessing regulations.

At the Commonwealth level, there are temporary, emergency regulations in place that allow electronic execution of documents, meeting minutes, resolutions and agreements (but probably not deeds) by directors of companies, which still allow the parties to rely on the assumptions in s127 of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).

Grab our downloadable fact sheet on remote witnessing here.

If you require a document witnessed or remote witnessed, Contact Us Now. We’re at your service.