COVID-19 | Emergency Measures in Victoria – electronic execution and remote witnessing
Written by Gabriella Ferraro
On 24 April 2020, the Victorian Government’s COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Act 2020 received Royal Assent. The Regulations follow similar changes made in NSW that also also facilitate remote witnessing, while also introducing new categories of documents that can be executed electronically.That Act made sweeping changes in various areas, on a temporary basis, to address many practical issues being faced due to the various restrictions in force to seek to minimise the spread of COVID-19.
TheCOVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) (Electronic Signing and Witnessing) Regulations 2020 (the Regulations) came into effect on 12 May 2020. The Regulations will expire on 24 October 2020.
The Regulations make a number of key changes to how transactions (including deeds and mortgages, statutory declarations, powers of attorney and wills) can be witnessed and executed in Victoria. These changes are as follows -
subject to any other specific legislative requirements, deeds and mortgages can now be signed electronically in accordance with the requirements of the Electronic Transactions (Victoria) Act 2000.
declaring a statutory declaration is now permitted by audio visual link for the purposes of the Oaths and Affirmations Act 2018.
enduring and non-enduring powers of attorney (including revocations of the same) are able to be executed and witnessed by audio visual link for the purposes of the Powers of Attorney Act 2014.
execution, alteration and revocation of a will by a testator in the presence of a person for the purposes of the Wills Act 1997 may now occur where parties are present by audio visual link.
The above must all be adhered to in accordance with the conditions stated in the Regulations.
The changes are specific in nature - particularly in relation to the process to be followed for statutory declarations, powers of attorney and wills - and clients should remain cautious in changing their current practices without reviewing the Regulations or seeking legal advice.
You can read more about these changes on the State Government website: https://www.justice.vic.gov.au/electronicwitnessing
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is general advice only. Should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact our office.