Treasurer's e-signing reforms stall in the Senate; Victoria passes permanent reforms

22 Mar 2021

In a blow to businesses who have embraced the use of technology to sign documents during the COVID-19 pandemic, temporary relief measures allowing company officers to sign documents electronically under section 127 of the Corporations Act ended yesterday and have not been replaced.

In February 2021, the Government released a Bill that would have extend the arrangements that permitted company directors and secretaries to sign documents on separate paper or electronic copies (ie. counterparts) under section 127. However, that Bill did not pass through Parliament last week.

Accordingly, companies should exercise extreme caution and give detailed consideration to electronic execution under section 127 unless and until legislation is passed or further temporary measures are introduced.

In some good news, the Victorian Parliament passed permanent legislation last week allowing deeds and mortgages to be signed electronically and certain documents to be witnessed via audio visual link. The reforms implement the temporary measures that were introduced by the Victorian Government last year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The changes will take effect on and from 26 April 2021, being the same day that the temporary regulations are due to expire. In addition, Queensland has introduced legislation that, if passed, would extend relief measures allowing the electronic execution of deeds and other documents until 30 September 2021 or another day prescribed by regulation.

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