In response to the constraints on the ability of parties to sign documents in person brought on by the pandemic, temporary legislative changes have broadened authorised methods of execution. The temporary measures under the Treasury Laws Amendment (2021 Measures No.1) Act 2021 (Cth) (Amendment Act), will permit electronic and split execution of deeds, and documents, both with and without a common seal until 31 March 2022, whereafter it is expected more permanent measures will be introduced.
Under the new section put forward by the Amendment Act, execution by a reliable electronic method, where a person is able identify themselves, and the intention to sign, and where the entire contents of the document are included to ensure all parties agree to the same terms.
The amendments also allow electronic witnessing for the fixing of a seal using any Australian company’s preferred software, so long as:
- The witnessing occurs via electric means (i.e., videoconferencing)
- The person signs the document (electronically or physically)
- A statement that the witness observed the fixing of the seal electronically
The amendments also overrule the common law by not required the parties to sign the same, static document as the other signers, or any other material indicating the identity of the other signer or their intentions in respect to its content. Contact Morgan + English for further enquiries.