As a result of the continuing lockdown restrictions, the Scottish Government has passed additional legislation to deal with difficulties being experienced. One of these difficulties is the ability to have documents certified.
Clients require documents certified for a variety of reasons. Proof of identification is one example of this whilst, on a more formal basis, the administration of an Oath or Affirmation in an Affidavit is another.
Prior to the passing of this latest Act – the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No 2) Act 2020 – in order to have documents certified or an oath or affirmation administered,
Prior to the passing of this Act, clients who required documents certified or who had to have an Affidavit sworn, had to meet with the solicitor to have this done. Clearly, the lockdown provisions prohibited this and it led to problems for clients who needed us to do this.
We first saw changes in the way Wills could be witnessed remotely and Powers of Attorney properly executed, both over a remote video connection with the solicitor “present” on the video call.
This has now been extended to document certification and the administration of oaths and affirmations.
The courts have been closed due to the lockdown and have only recently begun processing anything other than urgent cases. Whilst they’re now operating behind closed doors, this now means we can progress uncontested cases. Family law cases can frequently proceed using affidavit evidence and this change in the law means that we can now administer the oath or affirmation remotely to those who need to formally swear or affirm that the content of the affidavit it true.
It remains to be seen whether this procedure will continue once the lockdown has bene fully eased. There’s no doubt that it would be a very useful process to have available in situations where our client is simply unable to meet with us in the office or, perhaps, where they are abroad. Perhaps, there is a case for adopting some of the technological innovations introduced as a result of the lockdown that would allow the more flexible approach to the various areas of law affected when the lockdown was introduced.