Electronically signing deeds have become a more common occurrence, particularly after the past year’s impact on how New Zealand businesses conduct themselves. Clarifying precisely what can and cannot be electronically signed and the legal limitations in place is something that all businesses should seek out for themselves.
The Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017 (CCLA) clarifies the legal requirements regarding electronic signatures. These requirements should be understood by anyone who is seeking electronic signatures.
The CCLA’s general position is that electronic signatures can be used and are considered just as valid as written signatures (subject to a few exceptions) as long as specific requirements are met and the parties consent. This means in practice, the following documents can be signed electronically:
- Agreement for Sale and Purchase of Real Estate
- Commercial Agreements
- Leasing documentation
- Director resolutions
- Trustee Resolutions
The following is a list of examples where an electronic signature cannot be used:
- Wills, codicils or other testamentary instruments;
- Statutory Declarations;
- Other documents that are given on oath or affirmation;
- Powers of Attorney and Enduring Powers of Attorney; and
- Information that is required to be given in writing in person, unless the person receiving the electronic signatures consents.
Deeds can be signed electronically but require (for New Zealand companies) to be signed by two directors, or in the case of there only being one director, by that director in the presence of a witness. The witness must witness the director’s signature first before signing themselves.
For further assistance with electronic signatures and legal compliance, speak with a professional in the legal field for more information.