UPDATE — Deeds may now be Signed Electronically

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By Daniel Livingston, Partner and Scott Colvin, Lawyer

Last week, we wrote about changes to allow documents to be executed electronically. To recap, the requirements of section 127 of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) can now be satisfied by electronic signature.

Despite those changes, we had to advise our clients that the position on deeds was unmoved, that deeds must be signed in wet ink, regardless of the current circumstances and the legislature’s apparent willingness to better facilitate electronic signing. Deeds continued to have a formal requirement that they be signed in wet ink, regardless of the Corporations Act.

That has now changed.

Earlier this week, a new law was passed bringing deeds (and other documents, including mortgages) within the scope of the Electronic Transactions (Victoria) Act 2000 (Vic). Where deeds previously required printing and executing in hard copy, they are now binding if signed in any of the regular electronic means, in the same way that other documents are able to executed electronically.

Lawyers have been requesting these changes for years, in an effort to modernise what is considered an anachronistic formal requirement. A good deal of jurisprudence, court judgment and academic attention has been devoted to this issue over the years, which may all now be answered once and for all.

Here’s hoping that these changes can be kept in place beyond the Coronavirus period to allow business to be done at modern speed.

For further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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