Remote witnessing of documents
Solicitors are now able to witness documents such as affidavits, statutory declarations, wills, enduring powers of attorney and enduring guardianship documents via audio-visual means. This means that where clients have access to video-conferencing technology (such as FaceTime, Zoom, Microsoft Teams etc.) solicitors can watch them sign a document, in real time, and later sign the same document as an official witness. These new witnessing provisions have been enabled by changes to the NSW Electronic Transaction Regulations.
Emergency Powers Legislation
The NSW government has made a range of changes to legislation, rules, regulations and policies, in response to COVID-19. For people resident in NSW, the following regulations allow for a range of interim COIVD-19 related changes:
COVID-19 (Emergency Measures) Act 2020
COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures Miscellaneous) Bill 2020 PBBH
The Australian government has also made a range of changes to legislation, rules, regulations and polices, in response to COVID-19.
COVID-19 (Movement and Gathering) Restrictions
The NSW government has implemented a range of social distancing rules, and penalties for breaching these, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please see Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order (No 3) 2020_as amended, recently made under the Public Health Act (NSW) 2010. Legal Aid NSW has prepared useful factsheets, in relation to these issues.
COVID-19 and Tenancy Laws in NSW
There are new requirements for landlords seeking to terminate tenancies, on the basis of rental arrears, where household incomes have been impacted by COVID-19. The Residential Tenancies Amendment (COVID-19) Regulation 2020, provides for these and other changes.
The Tenant’s Union of NSW website contains lots of useful COVID-19 information for tenants.
If you’re a tenant impacted by COVID-19, and need advice and assistance in relation to your tenancy, please call our tenancy service on (02) 4628 1678.
If you’re a landlord, and need advice about your options, you should contact NSW Fair Trading or discuss the matter with your managing agent (our legal service cannot assist with these matters).
Courts and Tribunals across Australia have implemented a range of changes in their processes and procedures, to ensure they are able to remain operational during this period of social distancing. If you have a matter before a court or tribunal, you should have a look at the court’s website (or call their registry) for up-to-date information about how your matter will be proceeding.
NSW Children’s Court
NSW Local Court
NSW District Court
NSW Supreme Court
NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT)
Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT)
Australian Human Rights Commission
Fair Work Commission
Loss of Employment and Financial Hardship
Under Fairwork legislation, employers are entitled to reduce hours, stand-down employees, request employees take leave, or otherwise make employees redundant, in cases where work is no longer available etc. Please refer to the Fair Work Ombudsman website for further information.
If you’ve lost your job, or had your hours reduced, as a result of COVID-19 you may be eligible for government financial support. Please refer to Services Australia website, for further information.
If you would like legal advice about whether your employer has acted fairly, please call MLC on (02) 4628 2042, for legal advice, specific to your circumstances.
Legal Aid NSW – COVID-19 Publications
NSW Government COVID-19 website
Australian Government COVID-19 website
Understanding COVID-19 restrictions
SafeWork Australia website
NSW Law Society (the Law Society’s website has some helpful information about legal practice and the operations of Courts in NSW).