In light of the present Covid situation an issue has arisen with witnessing documents, in particular Affidavits and appearing in Court.

The Electronic Transactions Amendment (COVID-19 Witnessing of Documents) Regulation 2020 under the Electronic Transactions Act 2000 together with the Court Rules and respective Practice Directions have provided a means of witnessing documents by audio-visual link (AVL) or appearing by telephone or AVL at the trial.

In terms of witnessing documents it is no longer a necessity to sign the documents in person and this can now be done as simply as over zoom or another audio visual means.

But what are the requirements:

  • You must observe the individual signing of the document ‘in real time’;
  • Confirm that the signature was witnessed, by signing a document or copy of the document;
  • Be reasonably satisfied that the document the witness signs is the same document that the signatory signed and endorse the document/copy of document with a statement which specifies the method used to witness the signature and document which was witnessed under this regulation.

Generally, the regulation suggests a witness may sign a document counterpart as soon as practicable after watching the signatory sign the document or scan the document providing an electronic signature, countersigning the document as soon as practicable. This does not take away from other important factors such a mental capacity or confirming the persons identity.

In terms of appearing in court it will ultimately depend on the Court with which you are dealing with and relevant Rules and or Practice Directions.