The Coronavirus pandemic, and subsequent lockdowns, required timely amendments to many Cayman laws and regulations to enable the business community to continue to function. One such innovative change was the passing of the Notaries Public (Virtual Conduct of Notarial Acts) Regulations, 2020 which when combined with The Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Amendment Act), 2020 enabled persons to sign property related deeds or instruments remotely and removed the need for their physical presence before the notary.
HSM Property Partner Linda DaCosta explains that through video conferencing (Zoom, Teams etc.), lawyers in the Cayman Islands were for the first time permitted to meet virtually with clients to present passports and sign documents without compromising public health and safety. The amended law allowed unprecedented continuity and facilitated transactions effectively ensuring business generally and property transactions were still taking place during lockdown.
Unfortunately as of 13 April 2022, the Notaries Public (Virtual Conduct of Notarial Acts) Regulations, 2020 were stated to only be in effect for a period of 2 years and will expire on 16 April 2022. Whilst COVID related issues continue it can only be hoped that the Regulations will be extended. Even in a post-COVID world the need for such a provision to assist the elderly and disabled is obvious. Furthermore it cuts down the carbon footprint by removing car trips to the lawyer's office.
There is still opportunity for further improvements. The amendments did not effectively allow for statutory documents to be executed remotely by a person located outside Cayman, we would like to see the scope extended to at least cover Caymanians overseas.
HSM hope that the Government will extend the Regulations and make the change a permanent one, embracing the electronic world we now live in.
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