Signing documents during COVID-19
Corporate Law - 07 Sep 2020
With the current pandemic restrictions, the process of companies executing documents and getting your legal documents witnessed has incurred an additional challenge. In response to the hurdles created by COVID-19, the Federal Government has announced temporary changes to the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) regarding electronic signing and document execution.
The changes to the Corporations Act are welcome and make it easier for companies to execute documents! Yes, these changes only apply to companies. But that is because there are electronic signature provisions already in place at a State level.
If you are signing as a company
The Corporations (Coronavirus Economic Response) Determination (No. 1) 2020 (Cth) (Determination) provides the temporary addition to s127(1) and s129(5) of the Corporations Act to allow a document to be electronically signed and executed.
Under the Determination, a document can now be electronically signed by pasting an image of a physical signature into the document, using a stylus or finger to sign a soft copy of the document on a touchscreen tablet, laptop, smartphone; or by using a cloud-based digital signature platform such as DocuSign.
If you need your signature witnessed
Witnessing signatures can now be conducted via audio-visual link, which has proven very handy in recent months – we have witnessed many documents for clients over FaceTime.
If the document is being executed in Australia, a witness can be a justice of the peace, an Australian lawyer (i.e. – us, as a legal consulting firm!) or a notary public. Once we have witnessed you signing the document, you send us a scanned copy, we include our signature and name as a witness and return it to you.
How long will this last?
The Determination takes effect from 6 May 2020 and will last until 6 November 2020. Although the Determination is only temporary, we are hoping that these changes will be legislated on a permanent basis to provide some ongoing certainty in this area and some additional flexibility for companies.
Co-written by Chelsea Fennell – Bond University student
The information contained in this blog is general in nature and should not be considered to be legal, tax, accounting, consulting or any other professional advice. In all cases, you should consult with a professional advisor familiar with your factual situation for advice concerning specific matters before making any decisions. By reading this blog, you confirm your understanding of this disclaimer.