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Law in the Time of COVID-19

The impacts of covid-19 restrictions on the Australian economy will be felt for some time. Even after restrictions ease or are lifted altogether, there will be a period of recovery.

Until a vaccine is widely available, we are likely to see a shift in the way Australians do business.
Remote, contactless and electronic transactions will become the norm, and are probably here to stay.

In the meantime, in the ACT and NSW, arrangements have been put in place to provide for
witnessing of certain documents via videoconference which are not generally available at law.

Specific provisions have been implemented for commercial and residential leases through Codes of Conduct, which must be ratified by individual states and territories for them to apply as law.

Contact Us   to discuss your situation. We’re at your service.

Commercial Leasing Mandatory Code of Conduct

There are now measures in place for tenants covered by the Leases (Commercial and Retail) Act 2001 (ACT) and Retail Leases Act 1994 (NSW), where a tenant qualifies for JobKeeper and the tenant has:

• failed to pay rent or other moneys owing under their lease, or
• ceased to operate their business during required hours

A landowner must not terminate a lease for these tenants without first negotiating with the tenant in good faith and in line with the Code of Conduct.

The landowner must also negotiate with these tenant in good faith and in line with the Code of Conduct before exercising certain other rights arising from these breaches:

• evict the tenant, exercise a right of re-entry or recover possession of the premises
• seize the tenant’s property
• impose interest, fees or charges on unpaid amounts
• claim on any security bond
• claiming damages
• exercising any other remedy otherwise available against the tenant
• commencing proceedings to do any of these things

Check out our fact sheets below for the full details.

Remote Witnessing

In order to be valid and binding, certain documents must be executed under the hand of a person, in ink and on paper, and witnessed by another person signing in the same way at the same time.

ACT and NSW have passed temporary measures permitting certain documents to be witnessed over an audiovisual link.

Documents that can be witnessed remotely include:

• affidavits
• wills
• general powers of attorney
• enduring powers of attorney

Both the ACT and NSW have permitted certain other documents to be witnessed remotely.

Check out our fact sheets below for the full details.