One of the silver linings of COVID-19 is the acceptance of virtual appointments by the legal community (the Law Society of British Columbia, Land Title and Survey Authority, courts, etc.). We at Acorn Law Corporation are happy to offer virtual appointments to our clients when the circumstances permit.
Virtual appointments have proven to be very helpful during the COVID-19 era, but there are a few things to keep in mind before scheduling a virtual appointment. This article summarizes some of these items.
In order to take part in a virtual appointment, you will need access to a computer with a microphone and camera. The computer must be hooked up to the internet. If the lawyer will be witnessing any legal documents, you will also need access to a printer and a scanner or device which permits you to take and send pictures.
Prior to the virtual appointment you will need to create an account with the video conferencing platform (Ex. Zoom) which can be done for free here: https://zoom.us/freesignup. You will also need to have an email address and/or fax machine to send digital copies of ID and the documents.
Please note that you can have assistance in setting up the necessary technology and accounts. However, in certain situations we may require that all third parties leave the room prior to the virtual appointment.
In order to comply with the rules imposed by the Law Society of British Columbia with respect to video conferencing, we must record the virtual meeting. We must retain a copy of the recording in accordance with all security and confidentiality laws and best practices.
Client Identification Process:
There are additional steps that we are required to take to verify your ID if we do not see you in person. The process required by the Law Society of British Columbia is outlined below. If you are unable to complete the process for any reason, please let us know as soon as possible and we will do our best to make alternate arrangements.
Step 1: Email our office a copy of two pieces of valid and unexpired identification. Please note that one piece of identification must be your drivers license or passport and the second piece of identification must be from an approved list (Ex. Health card, birth certificate, major credit card, etc.). You will be asked to show us the same two pieces of identification during the virtual meeting.
Step 2 (for “financial transactions” only – Ex. real estate transactions):
- Option A: Email and mail/courier our office with two documents which confirm either your name and address or name and birthdate. The documents must be from an approved list (Ex. utility statement, bank statement, insurance document (home, life, car), mortgage statement, municipal property tax assessment, provincial vehicle registration, Investment account statements (RRSP, TFSA, RRIF) Canada Pension Plan statement or CRA notice of assessment).
- Option B: Complete a credit check.
Additional Legal Services Required:
Certain documents need to be amended or supplemented in order to be validly witnessed by us virtually. For example, we may need to prepare and swear one or more “affidavits of execution” in the presence of another lawyer. We may also need to amend the documents themselves to comply with the applicable laws, regulations and policies to ensure that the signed documents are valid, enforceable and/or registrable, as applicable. For these reasons, there may be additional legal fees for witnessing documents virtually as compared to in person.
Third Party Policies:
It is important to note that some third parties have specific policies with respect to whether they will accept documents witnessed virtually and/or the steps necessary to witness such documents virtually. If you are planning on witnessing legal documents virtually, we recommend advising your all applicable third parties (Ex. your lender) as early as possible.
We would be happy to answer any questions that you have regarding the above or virtual appointments in general. Also, please do not hesitate to contact us at (778) 940-3768 if we can be of assistance with your current or future legal needs in the areas of corporate, commercial, real estate or wills and estates. We would be happy to help in person or virtually!
Author: Danielle (Dani) Brito
This information is general in nature only. You should consult a lawyer before acting on any of this information. This information should not be considered as legal advice. To learn more about your legal needs, please contact our office at (778) 940-3768 or any of our lawyers practicing in the area of business law at the following:
Danielle (Dani) Brito: [email protected]
Jennette Vopicka: [email protected]