Electronic witnesses of documents

For those living in NSW, you can now have certain legal documents witnessed through virtual means i.e. through video conference. This is a result of a temporary regulation introduced by the NSW Government called the Electronic Transactions Act 2000 (NSW) (“the regulation”) and its aim is to cater to the physical distancing requirements in the current COVID-19 environment and reduce face-to-face contact.

Some of the legal documents included under this new regulation include Wills, Enduring Power of Attorneys, Affidavits and Statutory Declarations. These documents still need to be signed by each party with wet ink signatures (i.e. each party still needs to physically sign with pen on paper), however, the witnessing of the signature of the person signing the document can be done via video. Once the witness has seen the other person signing the document via video, the witness then needs to sign a scanned copy of the document or counterpart of the document. A statement also needs to be made on the document outlining that the document was witnessed in accordance with the new regulation.

In the ACT, the COVID-19 Emergency Response Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 (ACT) was passed on 7 May 2020, allowing the same to happen in the ACT.

If you are unsure whether you are able to use electronic witnessing for your particular document or would like assistance with it, please do not hesitate to contact our lawyers at M Legal.