Implications of the Covid-19 lockdown
In property transactions, each party must sign an Authority and Instruction form allowing their respective lawyers the ability to make changes to a property’s title on their behalf. Physical signatures on these documents must typically be witnessed by a lawyer or Justice of the Peace. However, in response to the Covid-19 situation, interim guidelines issued by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) record that Authority and Instruction forms can be signed by means of an electronic signature — until at least these guidelines are revoked. Alternatively, wet-ink physical signatures will need to be witnessed over a video link.
The Government has also made a temporary law change to modify the requirements of witnessing and signing wills and enduring power of attorneys (EPAs). These changes allow wills and EPAs to be signed and witnessed using audio-visual links (for example Zoom, Facetime and Skype etc). For further guidance on how these documents can be witnessed and signed, it is explained here for wills and explained here for EPAs.
In terms of statutory declarations and affidavits, it appears that these may be administered electronically — however, physical signatures would still be required. As above, signatures in these cases need to be witnessed over a reliable video link .
It is still understood that powers of attorney and enduring powers of attorney (and presumably Wills and the like) cannot be signed electronically.
If anything is not clear here then we would be happy to discuss with you — as usual individual circumstances usually mean that the context is important to consider.
This article is not a substitute for legal advice and you should contact your lawyer about your specific situation. Please feel free to contact Steven Moe at firstname.lastname@example.org should you require assistance.