New Tech Reforms BY NSW Parliament Ensure COVD Safety of Lawyers and Clients

Kymberlei Goodacre, Cassandra Banks and Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney General Natalie Ward MLC met at Coffs to discuss the reform.

 

LOCAL Law firms can continue to be COVID-19 safe as new reforms passed by NSW Parliament ensure video conferencing technology will continue to be available for witnessing important legal documents such as wills, powers of attorney and statutory declarations.

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Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney General Natalie Ward MLC visited local lawyers in Coffs Harbour to see how these reforms were enabling COVID-safe ways to continue important legal duties during the pandemic.

“The safety and wellbeing of NSW residents is a priority of the NSW government, which is why we changed the way these documents can be witnessed.

“This reform enables arrangements introduced at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce face-to-face contact to continue. These arrangements allow local solicitors to witness the signatory signing a document in real time over an audio-visual link,” Mrs Ward said.

Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh MP said this reform helps keep local lawyers providing services to the community.

“People in Coffs Harbour have seen how important video conferencing technology has been in their day to day activities and I’m thrilled that this practice can now continue.

“These changes allow our local lawyers to work with some of the most vulnerable in our community without putting them at risk of contracting COVID-19,” Mr Singh said.

Clarence River & Coffs Harbour Regional Law Society Co-President Cassandra Banks has seen first-hand the positive impacts of these reforms.

“Hundreds of legal documents are required to be signed every day in front of one or more witnesses. Video conferencing technology enables these important forms to be completed efficiently and without the inherent risks of face-to-face interaction.

“Many local law firms employ or provide services to people who are susceptible to COVID-19, this ensures local jobs continue and the community stays safe,” Ms Banks said.

Under the extension, a witness can sign a document, or a copy of the document, to confirm they witnessed the signatory’s signature via video technology. This could be done on a hard copy, which is scanned and sent to the witness or on an identical counterpart of the document the signatory signs.

Traditional methods of signing and witnessing these documents remain in place.

 

By Sandra MOON

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