In mid-February 2021, we saw the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg announce an extension to the temporary relief measure relating to virtual AGMs and the signing & sending electronic documents.
This Determination authorised by statute, currently provided relief until 21 March 2021 – the extension intended to grant relief through to 15 September 2021, providing the Government with the necessary time make these changes permanent (see previous Treasury consultation that occurred late 2020).
To effect this extension of time, Treasury Laws Amendment (2021 Measures No. 1) Bill was introduced into Parliament. However, due to some proposed amendments within the Senate, this Bill remains unfinalised. As a result the current temporary measures to section 127 of the Corporations Act have now lapsed.
According to the sitting calendar, the Senate will not sit to finalise this Bill until the week commencing 10 May 2021.
Whilst these temporary measures have hit a roadblock, it’s not all bad news…
There was an amendment late last year to the definition of ‘document’ in the Corporations Act 2001 that extends to include a document in electronic form, arguably making it easier for the use of electronic signing (Corporations Amendment (Corporate Insolvency Reforms) Act 2020 (Cth)).
At a state level, we have also seen some positive outcomes in this area of electronic execution and remote witnessing:
- Victoria – legislation has recently passed that permanently introduces provisions for deeds to be electronic, allows for split execution and allows for remote witnessing (subject to various requirements) – see Justice Legislation Amendment (System Enhancements and Other Matters) Bill 2021.
- Queensland – proposed amendment has been introduced into Parliament to extend the current relief through to 30 September 2021 – see Justice Legislation (COVID-19 Emergency Response – Documents and Oaths) Regulation 2020 (Qld).
Want to find out more?
Join Aaron for the upcoming SMSF Virtual Day 2021 on 30-31 March, where he will be exploring the latest issues and considerations with electronic execution of SMSF documents.