Signing documents electronically to return

August 2021

As the upsurge of COVID-19 cases continues to see rolling lockdowns in place, the return of electronic execution of documents is a welcome change.

Legislation has passed that allows for a return to electronically signing documents, as changes to the Corporations Act 2021 have received royal assent as of 13 August 2021.

Similar reforms were introduced to the Corporations Act in May 2020, however those measures expired on 21 March 2021. The new rules are not permanent and are due to expire on 31 March 2022, however the explanatory memorandum to the Act does suggest that the government intends to implement permanent changes to allow for the new rules to continue before the temporary measures lapse.

What the act allows

The most common method of signing documents by private companies includes:

  • having two directors sign the document
  • a director and company secretary sign the document; or
  • a sole director/secretary can sign for sole director companies

The new changes will mean that company directors and secretaries can sign their company documents in several ways:

  • Via a tablet using a stylus device
  • Using electronic signature tools such as AdobeSign or DocuSign

Where electronic signing is used, there are some critical factors to get right: Signing the electronic document covers the whole document (though not each individual page needs to be signed) and that the mode of signing is reliable and able to demonstrate the signatory's identity.

For more guidance about electronic signing of company documents, it's best to speak to your accountant for clear guidance on what your responsibilities are.

Contact us on 02 9957 4033 for more information.

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This article is provided for information purposes only and correct at the time of publication. It should not be used in place of advice from your accountant. Please contact us on 02 9957 4033 to discuss your specific circumstances.

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