Law Society recommends processes for remote administration of oaths and declarations

Law Society proposes measures to facilitate the valid attestation of documents remotely during alert level 4

Law Society recommends processes for remote administration of oaths and declarations

The New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa has advice about oaths and declarations as pandemic restrictions remain in place.

The top legal body suggested processes to facilitate the remote administration of oaths and declarations as the alert level for the COVID-19 pandemic was raised to 4 on 26 March, necessitating the implementation of mandatory self-isolation.

In a memorandum prepared by Auckland barrister Paul Collins, the Law Society proposed that remote administration may be implemented with reference to the Epidemic Preparedness (Covid-19) Notice 2020 released on 25 March, which enables “certain judges and associate judges to, in particular cases, modify rules of court as they think necessary in the interests of justice.” To aid a court or authority in verifying the validity of such a procedure, the Law Society presented following requisite processes:

  • First, the lawyer must have been satisfied with the quality of the audio-visual link (AVL) facility used and was able to see both the deponent and the document clearly.
  • Second, in the case that the lawyer did not know the deponent as either a client or in person, the lawyer had to have obtained reliable photographic identification of the deponent that could be inspected via AVL.
  • Third, the lawyer must be very familiar with the document, more so than in normal circumstances, in order to be able to provide an accurate description of it.
  • Fourth, the lawyer should have been able to see each page as they were either signed or initialled by the deponent, including the jurat page and any exhibits. The document should then be scanned and sent to the lawyer.
  • Finally, the lawyer must be satisfied that the document received was the same document the lawyer witnessed the deponent sign prior to attesting it.

The lawyer would then confirm that all these criteria were met through the completion of a “certificate concerning administration of oath or declaration,” to be given to the deponent alongside the attested document. Nonetheless, the acceptance of the document as if it were attested normally would remain up to the authoritative body in question.

 “The procedures outlined in this memorandum, including the provision of a certificate, are intended to ensure the integrity of the system of formally proving documents, as far as it is possible to do so in the unprecedented circumstances of the pandemic,” the Law Society said.

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