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A temporary regulation that enabled legal forms to be signed and witnessed via video call during the pandemic will be made permanent under a new law introduced by the NSW Government.

In the same way many professional workers have migrated meetings to video calls, lawyers and justices of the peace have been able to efficiently witness legal documentation and signatures with via video call through the pandemic. The Electronic Transactions Amendment (Remote Witnessing) Bill 2021 will enable this practice to continue over audio-visual link technology such as Skype, Zoom or FaceTime.

Attorney General Mark Speakman said the convenience and efficiency of remote witnessing, as well as improved access to justice, formed a major part of the decision to make the regulation permanent.

“Continuing these measures will benefit people living in rural, regional and remote areas. It will also improve access to justice for vulnerable members of the community including older people, people suffering from illness or people with a disability,” he said.

Speakman also said there were safeguards in the law to address the risk of fraud, such ensuring witnessing occurred in real time (that is, not pre-recorded video) and the witness must endorse the document with a statement that they have complied with the requirements.