Even in a pandemic, business continues and documents must be signed. With social distancing, travel restrictions and many working from home, how do you get parties to provide their signature? This Legal GP blog explains the temporary changes made in Victoria that allow for some documents to be signed electronically and witnessed remotely. Read on. 

How do I obtain a signature electronically?  

Websites such as HelloSign or DocuSign allow you to upload the document you require a signature for, and send onto relevant signing parties who can then open the file and provide a signature using their tablet, smartphone or laptop using a stylus or their finger on the trackpad.  

How do I record that a signature was obtained electronically? 

The person signing must ensure they write or stamp under their signature a statement that shows the document was electronically signed in accordance with the regulations.  

For example: 

This document was electronically signed by Mark Ryan on 28/10/2020 in accordance with the COVID-19 Omnibus Emergency Measures Electronic Signing and Witnessing Regulations 2020. 

What types of documents can be witnessed remotely? 

In Victoria, temporary changes have been made that allow for some documents to be witnessed remotely to stop the spread of Covid-19. 

You can now witness the following remotely: 

  • affidavits 
  • deeds and mortgages 
  • statutory declarations 
  • powers of attorney documents 
  • wills, codicils and other testamentary instruments 

The temporary changes are part of the Covid-19 Emergency Measures Act 2020 and will remain in place until the Act is revoked. 

These new regulations do not override existing ways to witness documents. You must continue to use these existing ways of witnessing when it is safe to do so. 

How do I witness a document being signed remotely?  

You can witness a document being signed remotely without using an electronic signature. This can be done using software such as Zoom or Skype. The person signing can show themselves physically signing a document and then scanning it before sending to another person while maintaining an audio-visual link with the witness.  

How do I record that a signature was witnessed remotely? 

The person who signed the document must write or stamp under their signature a statement that states that the document was witnessed using an audio-visual link in accordance with the Regulations. 

For example:  

This document was witnessed by Mark Ryan on the 26th September 2020 by audio-visual link using Skype in accordance with the Covid-19 Omnibus Emergency Measures Electronic Signing and Witnessing Regulations 2020. 

Depending on the type of document being signed, there may be additional requirements. Check the Victoria State Government website here for more details. 

If you have any other questions regarding electronic signatures or witnessing documents being signed remotely, reach out to Mark Ryan who will be more than happy to help you. Find Mark Ryan and the Legal GP here.