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Executing legal documents in the presence of an authorised witness has become a difficult process because of the social distancing restrictions and office closures due to COVID-19.

On 22 April 2020 the Electronic Transactions Amendment (COVID-19 Witnessing of Documents) Regulation 2020 (NSW) was enacted to overcome the practical difficulties with executing legal documents. Under this Regulation, legal documents are able to be witnessed in the presence of a legal practitioner (amongst other authorised witnesses) via audio visual link such as Facetime, Zoom, Skype or WhatsApp.

The purpose of this Regulation is to reduce face-to-face contact and make it easier for people to stay home and reduce physical interactions while still completing important transactions during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While traditional methods of witnessing documents remain valid, under the new regulations, the category of documents that can now use audio visual technology to be witnessed include:

  • 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; and
  • Verification of identity.

In order to execute a legal document via audio visual link, the witness must see the person signing the document in real time via audio visual link, then scan and send the document to the authorised witness for him/her to insert their signature and subsequently endorse the method by which the signature was witnessed. This process ensures that legal documents are legitimately executed and valid whilst maintaining the safety and wellbeing of NSW residents.

This is a temporary regulation which has been made under section 17 of the Electronic Transactions Act. The Regulation will last for 6 months after 22 April 2020.  However, the NSW Parliament can reduce this time frame if required.

Our team at Madison Marcus are fully equipped to assist its clients with executing legal documents via audio visual link such as Zoom, Facetime, Skype and WhatsApp. Our solicitors are also more than willing to work around your busy schedule to ensure that your important legal documents are properly executed in a timely manner.

Please do not hesitate to contact us today to enquire about our competitive prices for executing legal documents via audio visual link.

Madison Marcus is closely monitoring all developments relating to the COVID-19 Crisis and how they can affect our clients. You can keep up to date with the advice from our experts in relation to legal  and business issues that have arisen so far by subscribing to our E-Alerts here.

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