Digital signing of statutory declarations will make legal processes more accessible

1st Aug 2023

Allowing the digital signing of statutory declarations will make it easier for more people to access essential legal processes, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

“For people living in rural, regional and remote areas, as well as for those who are elderly, injured, in hospital, in care, housebound or who have limited mobility, allowing digital signatures on statutory declarations is an important step to helping them access the legal system,” said Mr Shaun Marcus, National President, Australian Lawyers Alliance.

“As long as data security and privacy protection is properly addressed, we believe that moving to the digital execution of documents will be helpful for lawyers and their clients.”

In a submission to the Attorney-General’s department, the ALA has provided broad support to the proposal to amend the Statutory Declarations Act 1959 (Cth) and the Statutory Declarations Regulations 2018 (Cth) to expand the options for Commonwealth statutory declaration execution.

The ALA notes that it is important to have traditional paper-based execution available for those who prefer, but e-execution and digital signatures should also be permissible.

“E-execution – currently available only as a temporary measure – has also been helpful for legal practitioners, especially for practitioners who work from home or are themselves located in rural, regional or remote places,” said Shaun.

“However, all lawyers have a legal obligation to keep their clients’ information safe and confidential, including in the execution of Commonwealth statutory declarations.  As such, our support is contingent upon the assurance of privacy protection and data security.

“It will be imperative that strict privacy protections and policies plus the most secure data management systems are in place when e-execution is formalised and digital execution is introduced.”

Tags: Access to justice