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Video conferencing technology will continue to be used to witness legal documents such as wills, powers of attorney and statutory declarations.
Witnessing via audio-visual link (AVL) can be done through technology such as Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime and Zoom.
The witness must watch a person signing the legal document in real time through AVL. They then sign the document to confirm they have witnessed the signature. This can be on a hard copy of the signed document that is scanned and emailed to the witness, or an identical counterpart.
Remote AVL witnessing will continue until the end of 2021, extending beyond the initial September 2020 deadline.
“The safety and wellbeing of NSW residents is a priority which is why we changed the way these documents can be witnessed,” Attorney General Mark Speakman said in a media statement.
Mr Speakman also noted that these temporary reforms could potentially be incorporated into legislation.
“Countless legal documents are signed every day in front of one or more witnesses but video conferencing technology enables these important forms to be completed efficiently and without the risk of face-to-face interaction.
“Extending remote witnessing arrangements will also allow us to assess whether these reforms should be continued in the longer term.”
Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello explained that these reforms were part of the government’s goal to streamline services throughout the pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us all how to deliver services differently while ensuring customers still enjoy the same high standard of efficiency.
“Video conferencing technology provides an effective and secure way to witness documents remotely.”
The traditional methods of signing and witnessing documents are still valid.
For more information, see the NSW government fact sheet: https://www.dcj.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0012/778971/FINAL-Witnessing-legal-documents-remotely-22.04.20.pdf