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Witnessing documents during COVID quarantine periods

The Registrar of Titles has announced temporary provisions to help with the witnessing of documents during the coronavirus pandemic.

In situations where a person is in COVID-19 related quarantine or isolation, it will be acceptable for the witness to view the individual signing the instrument live via some form of video link (eg. Skype, Zoom, etc). The executing individual should hold the instrument up to the video link to enable the witness to confirm it is the relevant instrument and note or screenshot the terms of the instrument. (Where possible, the individual should also send a photo of the signed instrument to the witness.) The witness should confirm verbally with the individual what they have signed, either through the video or through a separate phone call.

Once the individual has signed the instrument, the preferred action would be for the individual to have the instrument collected and delivered or posted to the witness. The witness would compare the instrument with their notes or photo and, if there have been no changes to the instrument, wet sign it as witness, and lodge it or deliver it to the appropriate person for lodging.

If delivery is not possible, once signed (and watched via video link and confirmed verbally by the witness) the instrument could be scanned or photographed, then emailed to the witness who will print it and wet sign it, as witness, and lodge it or deliver it to the appropriate person for lodging. Note: Photography should only be used in extreme cases, as any lack of quality of the image may cause requisitions and slow down processing, with extra information potentially being required of the lodger. 

As is required now, witnesses should keep records of the action taken for seven years.

If you have questions about contracts, leasing or signing and witnessing of legal documents remotely during lockdown periods, contact our offices.