During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Queensland Government made a number of temporary allowances for the electronic signing and witnessing of documents. These allowances were set to expire in April 2022. However, on 18 November 2021 Queensland Parliament passed the Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2021 (Qld) (“the Act”) to make these changes permanent.
The Act amends the Property Law Act 1974 (Qld) to allow parties to execute deeds electronically from 30 April 2022. The new provisions offer a long-term solution in Queensland to the impracticalities of executing deeds in person and brings Queensland in line with Victorian and New South Wales law.
What are the requirements for signing electronically?
A deed can now be signed electronically provided an ‘accepted method’ is used. This means that:
- the method of signing the deed must identify the signatory and the signatory’s intent to be bound;
- the signing method used must either be:
- as reliable as appropriate for the purposes which the document is made or signed, having regard to all the circumstances, including any relevant agreement; or
- proven in fact to have identified the signatory for the document and their intention to be bound, by itself or together with further evidence; and
- the signing method used must be consented to by each of the document’s signatories.
Importantly, the amendments do not remove the ordinary way of executing a deed in person. This means an individual or a corporation may still execute a deed by signing it with a wet-ink signature, or they can choose to sign electronically. The executing parties can use different methods of signing provided they sign identical counterparts.
A deed signed by an individual no longer needs to be signed in the presence of a witness.
Corporations executing deeds electronically must still do so in line with standard execution protocols required by the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).
What are the exclusions to the amendments?
The Act excludes the following from being electronically signed:
Powers of Attorney
The Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2021 (Qld) also amends the Powers of Attorney Act 1998 (Qld). The general rule is that general powers of attorney need to be signed and witness in paper. However, two exceptions to this rule are made under the Act for:
- a general power of attorney granted for a business (section 24A of the Powers of Attorney Act 1998); and
- a specific power granted as part of a commercial or other arms-length transaction and for the purpose of the transaction (section 46A of the Property Law Act 1974).
Deeds that are required to be lodged with the Titles Registry (except general or enduring powers of attorney) must be signed in accordance with the Land Title Act 1994 (Qld).
These amendments only apply to deeds and powers of attorney made under Queensland Law on or after 30 April 2022. Different rules may apply if the deed is entered into in another jurisdiction. It is recommended that parties seek appropriate legal advice to ensure that their method of signing is valid under relevant laws.
The information contained on this website is for general guidance on matters of interest only. The application and impact of laws can vary widely based on the specific facts involved.
Accordingly, the information on this site is provided with the understanding that the authors and publishers are not providing legal advice. As such, it should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult with a professional lawyer from Rouse Lawyers.
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