DCCL COVID-19 Resource Centre: Issue 5

DCCL COVID-19 Resource Centre: Issue 5

DCCL COVID-19 Resource Centre: Issue 5

21 May 2020

This is our fifth publication of useful resources for our clients during the current coronavirus disruption. Our previous publications are available here. Clients are welcome to raise specific issues which they would like us to comment upon in future publications.

Changes allow wider electronic execution of documents by company officers

Following the Corporations (Coronavirus Economic Response) Determination (No. 1) 2020 (Cth), companies can execute documents by electronically signing counterparts, provided that each electronic counterpart contains the entire contents of the document, and provided the requirements of the Electronic Transactions Act 1999 (Cth) (ETA) (which are explained in our website article) are satisfied. Further, and importantly, other persons are entitled to rely upon the assumptions under section 129 of the Corporations Act (including an assumption that the document was validly executed) in relation to documents which have been signed electronically in accordance with the ETA.

The determination came into effect on 6 May 2020 and is automatically repealed after 6 months. Our updated website article explains electronic execution of documents in Australia in more detail. 

Victoria: electronic signing and “remote” witnessing permitted

On 12 May 2020, regulations were introduced in Victoria which, until 25 October 2020, permit the use of audio-visual links to “remotely” witness various types of documents, including deeds, mortgages, statutory declarations, powers of attorney and wills. 

The regulations also permit use of electronic signatures to sign documents including deeds, mortgages, statutory declarations, wills and powers of attorney in Victoria, including on counterparts of documents (that is, “split electronic execution”).

Further details of the new Victorian provisions are provided in our website article.

Legislation underpinning the Australian COVIDSafe app passed

The launch on 26 April 2020 of the Australian government’s contact tracing app, COVIDSafe, has raised some privacy concerns within the community. On 14 May 2020 the Privacy Amendment (Public Health Contact Information) Act 2020 (Cth) was passed. This legislation underpins the COVIDSafe app, and amends the Privacy Act. We comment on the legislation in detail in our website article

Innovation during the COVID-19 disruption

We have observed many and varied initiatives designed to combat the spread of COVID-19. In our website article we comment on innovation in local medical device manufacture and in the design and development of new protective equipment. Our article looks, in particular, at recent regulatory exemptions which support innovation in Australia. Through the Therapeutic Goods (Medical Devices – Ventilators) (COVID-19 Emergency) Exemption 2020 (Cth), the Federal Government has allowed ventilators manufactured in Australia to be lawfully supplied without being listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods, provided certain conditions are met. Additionally, a Victorian and Federal Government-backed consortium of Australian manufacturing companies has begun making ventilators, intending to take advantage of an “interim authorisation” issued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission which allows medical device manufacturers and suppliers to engage in conduct that may otherwise be considered prohibited cartel conduct. 

Our previous publications

Our 6 May 2020 Legal Resource Centre publication is here. In brief, it provides information about:

Our 21 April 2020 Legal Resource Centre publication is here. In brief, it provides information about:

Our 8 April 2020 Legal Resource Centre publication is here. In brief, it provides information about:

Our 31 March 2020 Legal Resource Centre publication is here.  In brief, it provides information about:

If you have any queries, please get in touch with one of the principals in our COVID-19 Legal Resource Team:

Dr Gordon Hughes AM

Principal Lawyer

E: GHughes@davies.com.au

P: +61 3 9254 2582

View Profile

Craig Finlayson CTA 

Principal Lawyer 

E: CFinlayson@davies.com.au

P: +61 3 9254 2716

View Profile

Paul Dewar

Principal Lawyer

E: PDewar@davies.com.au

P: +61 2 9293 1048

View Profile