Changes to Interacting with the Legal and Justice System as Result of the COVID-19 Pandemic
With the COVID-19 Pandemic continuing to effect everyday life, changes to the way we interact with the legal and justice system continue to be an important feature of the way we work and offer our services.
Video Conferencing is a central tool that allows us to offer the same level of service regardless of whether current and ever changing restrictions limit our ability to schedule meetings in person, and regardless of whether we are working from our offices or from home. Everything from initial consults to the witnessing of most legal documents are now able to be completed remotely. State Government regulations, namely the Covid-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Act 2020 and associated regulations, allow flexibility in the signing and witnessing of documents such as Wills, Enduring Powers of Attorney, Affidavits, and Statutory Declarations.
These documents can be witnessed over an “Audio visual link” (for instance, a Zoom meeting), and with physical or electronic signatures.
The general process for this to occur requires you to sign the documents “in front” of the witness, who is on the other end of a video conference. The documents are then sent to the witness for signing, and finally the documents are sent back to you, so that you can sign a declaration which certifies they are a copy of the original documents which you initially signed.
This final document is considered the original and can be used as if they were signed in person.
These regulations are currently due to be repealed on 26 April 2021, however they have already been extended once as they had initially been due to be repealed on 25 October 2020.
Other aspects of the legal system also continue to operate differently, with all Courts and Tribunals continuing to list hearings to take place over video or telephone link, and the continued expansion of the ability to file various documents electronically (which will remain a feature of Court Registries moving forwards).
This framework allows us to continue to safely offer our usual range of services to our Clients.