The South Australian Government has introduced the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020 (SA), which allows the Governor to suspend or amend all requirements relating to the preparation, signature, attestation, certification, stamping or other processing of documents in response to COVID-19. The categories of people who can witness affidavits have also been expanded to include police officers, full-time teachers, accountants, engineers and health professionals. However, witnesses must always be physically present. South Australian courts generally accept electronic signatures, but affidavits must always be signed and certified in person, with appropriate safeguards in place. However, if this is not possible for health or logistical reasons, a lawyer must issue the unsworn affidavit of the officer of his affidavit and undertake to submit the original sworn as soon as he can be sworn in. The governments of Victoria and New South Wales have introduced new special measures that allow documents such as deeds, wills and powers of attorney to be signed electronically and testifies remotely with audiovisual technology. These measures have been extended to include the possibility of becoming permanent. COVID-19 has caused many of us to rethink and reinvent how technology can help keep documents running during social distancing or isolation. In South Australia, electronic signatures are generally accepted unless a witness must be present.
NSW and Victoria have already evolved towards remote testimony with audiovisual technology. Depending on the success of our eastern counterparts, South Australia could follow suit. Some of these changes may persist to help vulnerable or remote people long after the pandemic. “As a number of JP services have been withdrawn in the current climate, we have agreed to expand the criteria so that a number of other legal explanations can demonstrate this. Self-isolation, quarantine and social distancing requirements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have in many cases made the physical signing of documents (and the testimony of such signatures) impractical, if not impossible. This has led to important legislative reforms in the short term. “However, in the case of affidavits – which South Australian justices of the peace have so far mainly testified to – we have found that there is room for manoeuvre. The list of people who can witness affidavits in South Australia has been expanded to ensure that community members can continue to access the service while public health restrictions are put in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). “When people need to see documents, they are reminded that public health measures such as social distancing requirements remain in place. There are legal requirements for documents that must be written and attested, which may not be satisfied by electronic signatures.
It is therefore recommended that documents not be executed electronically. If it is not possible to personally sign and attend the execution of an act, we recommend that you seek legal advice before applying an electronic signature to a document, as there is a risk that the deed may not be valid. While at Hume Taylor & Co we strive to welcome personal witnesses where it is safe, there are a number of situations where face-to-face contact would not be appropriate in the current climate. In these circumstances, our team will strive to find a solution. A justice of the peace (JP) acts as an independent and objective witness for documents that people use for official or legal purposes. For example, a JP: In addition to jp, there are other categories of people who can legally testify to these documents – for example. B, government employees, accountants, religious ministers, health professionals and banking officials who meet the criteria. In South Australia, an affidavit can be attested by: The Attorney General said the government has reviewed the testimonial requirements in light of the public health measures taken to combat the transmission of the disease. This is a much smaller group of people than those who can witness “affidavits” (including bank managers, etc.). .