On Friday 17 April 2020, the New Zealand Government made urgent new laws for the signing of Oaths and Affirmations, and Wills by means of video conferencing (Zoom, Facetime, Skype etc.)
This is a significant step.
Although as a lawyer working in this community, I love meeting my clients face to face, during Level 4 (and the likely Level 3 restrictions), I simply can’t. To do so, is a breach of the COVID-19 rules and as importantly poses a risk to community health and safety.
Legal work, unless it relates to protection of self and property, or other urgent court matters is not an essential service under current lockdown rules.
I, along with hundreds of other lawyers, have been advocating on behalf of our clients since before the lockdown to ensure that important so called ‘non-essential’ legal matters can continue to be dealt with. This has meant that liaising with banks, and other parties, I have prepared and/or witnessed many legal documents (including Enduring Powers of Attorney) by video conferencing services during the lockdown period. But there have been problems doing this with Wills.
Now, there is a clear way to prepare a formal, valid will using video conferencing and clear guidelines for Oaths/Affirmations, Wills and Enduring Powers of Attorney.
I continue to be able to offer ordinary witnessing/certifying duties (by video conference) and to assist with legal questions you may have by telephone, free of charge for my local community. Please let me know if I can help.
Epidemic Preparedness (Oaths and Declarations Act 1957) Immediate Modification Order 2020
Epidemic Preparedness (Wills Act 2007—Signing and Witnessing of Wills) Immediate Modification Order 2020
Key Legal Matters you should consider
As businesses by necessity rapidly track to online options, there’s more than just a great looking website or app to think about.
Whether you sell online or in person, you need to tell customers important information about your products or services — and how you conduct your business.
Key legal issues to think about include:
Terms and Conditions
Important information that should be part of your online presence includes:
Businesses that sell consumer products or services to other businesses can contract out of the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) and the Contract and Commercial Law Act, which has replaced the Sale of Goods Act. It might be your business contracting out, or it might be one or more of your suppliers.
Contracting out means that if something goes wrong, eg a domestic oven bought by a baker breaks down, the seller does NOT have to pay for repairs or give a refund or replacement — except to the extent stated in the contract.
Contracting out must be put in writing, eg in terms and conditions or contract. If not, the law applies. It doesn’t matter if the document is signed or not. If the sale goes ahead after receiving terms and conditions or contract, it’s taken to mean the buyer agrees to the terms.
Phrases like these, indicate an attempt to contract out:
It is a condition of sale that the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993 will not apply to any goods or services acquired for business purposes.
No other warranties either express or implied by law are made with respect to these products.
If your supplier’s contract attempts to contract out, look closely at what your protection is in their supply contract and think about whether you can negotiate special conditions.
The government offers a tool for setting up a plain English privacy statement. You can access it by clicking here: Priv-o-matic
This article is not a substitute for legal advice. If you have any questions at all about this article and migrating your business to an online presence, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. or clicking on the button below
Note from the Author
I get plenty of time to think about legal matters while I am on the road.
This blog shares those thoughts and also answers some of the many questions people ask me. Hopefully there is something of interest to you. If there is a subject you would like covered then let me know!
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