The Ministry of Justice has introduced an Immediate Modification Order (IMO), made under the Epidemic Preparedness (COVID-19) Notice 2020, which has amended the Oaths and Declarations Act 1957 in relation to the requirements for affirmations, oaths, and declarations.
The amendments affect declarations supporting applications for incorporation as a charitable trust board and declarations that are required to be filed under other legislation administered by the Companies Office, such as the Building Societies Act 1965, the Co-operative Companies Act 1996, the Employment Relations Act 2000 and the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1996.
Ordinarily the majority of these declarations would be witnessed personally by Justices of the Peace or solicitors, but this is either not currently possible (in the case of Justices of the Peace) or subject to social distancing and possibly travel restrictions (in the case of solicitors).
The Companies Office is therefore following guidance provided by the Ministry of Justice and the New Zealand Law Society, who have set out ways in which solicitors and other authorised people can witness the execution of legal documents – by taking affirmations, oaths and declarations – during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
The guidance makes it clear that there is no requirement for a person taking affirmations, oaths or declarations to be in the physical presence of those making them. The person witnessing the affirmation, oath, or declaration is also not required to physically sign the same document as the person making it. Instead, affirmations, oaths or declarations can be administered using audio-visual or audio links, such over Skype, Zoom, Facetime, or over the phone. Other requirements for taking affirmations, oaths, and statutory declarations remain the same.
You can read more detailed information for people needing to complete affirmations, oaths, and declarations during COVID-19 on the Ministry of Justice website.
Should access to such technology not be available, or you are having difficulty getting a declaration completed for a document required to be filed with the Companies Office, please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The changes applying to affirmations, oaths, and declarations made under the Oaths and Declarations Act 1957 apply only while the Epidemic Notice is in force.