Engaging with Stakeholders to Provide COVID-19 Updates
As the COVID-19 situation continues to unfold, we are engaging with various stakeholder groups such as the government, courts and the land titles office to provide important updates to Alberta lawyers and to address issues that have been identified by the profession.
These circumstances are raising challenging issues for the profession. The following are examples of issues that we are aware of at this time:
- Swearing affidavits: Sworn affidavits are required in court processes and applications. Currently the courts have jurisdiction to allow lawyers to file affidavits that have been sworn over video. The courts are, however, hearing only urgent matters and lawyers must be aware that they may face scheduling challenges.
- Land titles documents: The Land Titles Office requires that lawyers submit originally executed land transfers. There is an expectation that a witness has been personally present when the transfer has been signed and accompanying affidavits of execution must reflect the personal attendance of the witness on the commissioner or notary. Other documents subject to these requirements may include affidavits of value or dower documents. At this point witnessing or attesting documents over video has not been permitted and legislative change is required to allow this.
- Testamentary and estate planning documents: These documents require personal attendance before witnesses and lawyers and currently cannot be completed via Skype. While this is perhaps of less urgency, there are people who are trying to get their affairs in order in the event they become ill, and some are in care facilities that are locked down.
We understand that these issues, among others, are difficult to navigate given the circumstances we are facing. While many of these decisions do not fall within the authority of the Law Society of Alberta, we are making every effort to facilitate further discussions with stakeholders to provide clarity and further advice to lawyers.