Electronic witnessing of signatures – what is valid?

May 17, 2019

There is still plenty of confusion around the use of technology for signing documents and witnessing signatures.

The Law Society of NSW has recently put out a memo on the topic of witnessing signatures to provide some guidance on this. Some comments are:

  • You cannot witness the signing of document over Skype or FaceTime; and 
  • You cannot witness the signing of a document using online or cloud-based document signing services. 

Rather than ask what is valid on a technology basis, it is best to ask yourself three key questions before deciding whether you a valid witness or not:

  1. Are you physically present?
  2. Can you be sure that the document you are witnessing is the same document and not a copy?
  3. Are you signing at the same time as the witness?

There is a real danger for lawyers incorrectly claiming to witness a signature when they have not met the three minimum requirements in bold above because it could be considered dishonest or misleading conduct.
 

Previous post:

Next post: