On March 18th the Registrar of Titles released a Direction relating to lawyer’s witnessing of ISC documents. In addition, on March 19th, the Court of Queen’s Bench issued an updated Directive in relation to the swearing of affidavits.
As communicated to the membership yesterday in the COVID-19 Client interactions communication, the law society provided the following guidance:
In consideration of the above, if you can see the client in-person while they are signing, you do not have to be in the same room as them. A suggestion is to have the client drive to your office and remain in their vehicle. You attend outside the car and watch them sign the document. Have the client immediately take a photograph of the document on their phone and email it to you right away. The client should then retain the original document until a later time.
As conditions and information evolves moment to moment, the Law Society continues to work with the relevant stakeholders (Ministry of Justice, the Courts, and ISC) around the relaxation of the formal requirements for a validly witnessed signature. However, as it is not within the legislated authority of the Law Society change the law in this respect, we can, in the interim, continue to provide our members with responsible work-arounds, and advice to assist in determining the safest ways to meet the legislated requirements while not jeopardizing the health of practitioners or their clients, the subsequent validity of executed documents, or increasing a member’s exposure to liability.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a novel situation for lawyers and clients alike. In these uncertain times it may be necessary for lawyers and clients to communicate more than ever while navigating new and innovative ways to conduct business. We encourage our members consult our growing list of resources available on our website or to contact law society staff at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or concerns on how best to navigate these uncharted waters.