COVID-19: Remote Commissioning

COVID-19 has impacted nearly every aspect of our community including changes to our legal system. One of which is remote commissioning.

Commissioning is the process whereby a commissioner, such as a lawyer, takes an oath or declaration from a person (the deponent) who signs a sworn document such as an affidavit. The deponent must swear or affirmation that the contents of that document are true.

Prior to August 1, 2020, the commissioner and deponent were required to meet in-person. Commissioning can now be performed remotely so long the following requirements are met:

  1. Using a platform that ensures that the commissioner and deponent can clearly communicate with one and other. They must also see each other clearly;
  2. The commissioner must ensure to confirm the deponent’s identity
  3. The commission must ensure that the deponent understand what he or she is signing;
  4. The “jurat” must be modified to indicate that the document was virtually commissioned. The “jurat” is the space where the commissioner will certify the location and date where he or she took the declaration; and
  5. The commissioner must keep a record of the remote commissioning.

To review the full regulation setting out the conditions for remote commissioning click here.

Most importantly, even though the commissioner and deponent do not need to meet in person, the commissioner must still satisfy him or herself that the deponent’s signature is genuine.

Many of our normal practices have “gone virtual” due to COVID-19 and remote commissioning is a prime example of the law adapting to new norms.  As with any new practice we anticipate further changes as virtual meeting platforms and safeguards develop and evolve. Stay tuned!

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