As we have all learnt to transition into a new area of telephone and audio video link conferencing, a hurdle has arisen with witnessing Affidavits. This has also proven particularly difficult with people who cannot leave their homes due to self-isolation or age for example to attend to find a JP to witness the documents.
The Electronic Transactions Amendment (COVID-19 Witnessing of Documents) Regulation 2020 which came into effect on 22 April 2020 has brought much reprieve.
Where a signature is required to be witnessed on a document such as a Will, Power of Attorney or an Enduring power of attorney, Deed or Agreement, an Enduring Guardianship Appointment, an affidavit, including an annexure or exhibit to the Affidavit or a Statutory Declaration then the signature may be witnessed by Audio Visual Link.
There are however qualifications to this and that is, a person witnessing the signing of a document by audio visual link must:
a) observe the person signing the document sign the document at that exact time;
b) attest or otherwise confirm the signature was witnessed by signing the document or a copy of the document, and Page 4 Electronic Transactions Amendment (COVID-19 Witnessing of Documents) Regulation 2020 [NSW] Schedule 1 Amendment of Electronic Transactions Regulation 2017 Published LW 22 April 2020 (2020 No 169);
c) be reasonably satisfied the document the witness signs is the same document, or a copy of the document signed by the signatory; and
d) endorse the document, or the copy of the document, with a statement specifying the method used to witness the signature of the signatory, and that the document was witnessed in accordance with the Regulation.
The witness may either sign a counterpart of the document as soon as practicable after witnessing the signing of the document, or if the signatory scans and sends a copy of the signed document electronically—countersign the document as soon as practicable after witnessing the signing of the document.
Just remember this does not take away from verifying a persons identity, swearing or affirming the contents of an Affidavit or seeing the face of the deponent.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact Chamberlains Team on 02 6188 3600 or firstname.lastname@example.org