Three cheers for NSW, which has made its remote witnessing rules permanent 

Great news for the fine folk of NSW, particularly those who live in regional or remote areas, as well as  vulnerable members of the community who find it hard to get out and about. A temporary law that allowed remote witnessing of important documents during the pandemic has just been made permanent. 

In a nutshell, the Electronic Transactions Amendment (Remote Witnessing) Bill 2021 makes it permanently possible for residents of NSW to get others to witness them signing important documents remotely. Witnesses don’t have to be in the same room or even in the same state – as long as the document was created in NSW, third parties can witness and e-sign documents from wherever they are. 

Remote witnessing is not new 

The NSW government introduced remote witnessing when COVID-19 lockdowns and social distancing measures made it virtually impossible for two parties to meet face-to-face. To solve the problem, the government allowed witnesses to watch a person sign a document via audio-visual platforms like Zoom or Microsoft Teams. 

The practice quickly became commonplace, with people embracing technology as a quick, cost-effective and secure way to get important documents signed.

The government’s move to make it permanent is fantastic news for lawyers, businesses and individuals who need documents like deeds, wills, powers of attorney, enduring guardianships, oaths, affidavits and statutory declarations signed and witnessed. Now, using an electronic signing platform like DocuSign, it can all be done via a simple video link. 

How DocuSign supports remote witnessing

The DocuSign platform is geared towards electronic witnessing, making it easy for both the signer and witness to add their details to the document. 

Here’s how it works:

  • Signers can nominate a witness through DocuSign eSignature and set up an audio-visual call with the witness
  • Once on the call, the signer shares their screen with the witness and electronically signs the document using DocuSign eSignature
  • As soon as their signature is added, the witness is automatically sent an email notification that they need to electronically sign the document, too
  • The witness then shares their screen and electronically signs the document, endorsed with a statement confirming the document was signed in counterpart and witnessed over audio-visual link in accordance with the Electronic Transactions Act 2000

To ensure the veracity and legality of the process, the witness' signing data is captured in the DocuSign eSignature certificate of completion, which provides a digital audit trail that compliments the audio-visual calls being recorded as further evidentiary information of the signing.

A bright future for electronic signatures

DocuSign also welcomes the Customer Service Legislation Amendment Act 2021. This Act provides clarification that a deed executed by a corporation in NSW may be created in electronic form and electronically signed and witnessed. Both of these Acts demonstrate the growing adoption of secure technologies like DocuSign eSignature, as more businesses and individuals catch on to the significant efficiencies and cost savings they afford.


Learn more about how to include a witness in DocuSign.

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