Remote Witnessing is Here to Stay

Headshot of Jessica Wadwell - Conveyancer at Everingham Solomons TamworthCovid-19 has forced a lot of industries to adapt to a new way of business and the legal industry is no different. Limits to face-to-face contact has forced the development of technologies and laws to allow for remote witnessing of legal documents.

During the pandemic the NSW Parliament introduced temporary legislation to allow for the signing and witnessing of documents via ‘audio-visual link’ (AVL). It proved so successful that the recent passing of the Electronic Transactions Amendment (Remote Witnessing) Bill 2021 has now cemented the temporary measures into law.

AVL witnessing operates by the witness observing the client sign a document in real time over AVL. The witness then confirms having witnessed the signing by the client by either signing the document as soon as practicable after witnessing or signing an exact copy of the document. The witness further endorses the document by specifying the method of AVL signing.

Being a regional firm based in Tamworth and Quirindi and servicing the entire North West region, Everingham Solomons is welcoming this opportunity to better serve our clients. The ‘tyranny of distance’ has long been a frustration and now we are seeing the measures introduced to endure the pandemic producing long-term benefits for our clients.

People living in regional or remote areas, or those that may suffer from illness or mobility problems can now benefit from this choice and flexibility.

Everingham Solomons understands the need for access and flexibility because Helping You is Our Business.

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Covid retail leasing update

Headshot of Clint Coles - Director at Everingham Solomons TamworthWith the recent and unfortunate resurgence of retail lockdowns it’s timely to revisit landlord and tenant obligations in the retail leasing landscape.

On 13 July 2021, the Covid Retail and Other Commercial Leases (Covid 19) Regulation 2021 enacted.

In its original form, it did not require that tenants and landlords renegotiate rent as they were required to through 2020, but instead provided simply that landlords could not take ‘prescribed action’ against tenants unless they had first attempted mediation.

That situation was altered, however, on 13 August 2021 as lockdowns continued and became more widespread across the state. From that date, sections 6C & 6D were added to the regulation which, in effect re-instated the obligation of landlords to renegotiate leases under the National Code of Conduct.

The code of conduct remains unchanged from 2020 and essentially provides that the leasing parties should negotiate rental reductions proportionate to the lessee’s downturn in revenue, with half of the reduction to be effected as a waiver and the remaining half as a deferral.

The most obvious difference between the 2020 and 2021 versions of the retail leasing relief is in the qualifying criteria. Under the 2021 regulation, a tenant will only qualify as an ‘impacted lessee’ if they are in receipt of either the Microbusiness Grant, Business Grant or JobSaver payments and have an annual turnover of less than $50m.

The current regulation runs to 13 January 2022, but does not apply to leases entered into after 26 June 2021.

If you have any inquiries in respect of retail leasing, please contact Everingham Solomons because Helping You is Our Business.

Click here for more information on Clint Coles