AMENDMENT TO THE WILLS ACT ALLOWS “PRESENCE” OF WITNESSES BY VIDEO CONFERENCE OR OTHER VISUAL TRANSMISSION

This order came was laid before Parliament today. It allows wills to be witnessed by video transmission. Note that the Order backdates to the 31st January 2020.

Hand, Write, Pen, Paper, Letters, Will, Intention

THE ORDER

The Wills Act 1837 (Electronic Communications) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Order 2020
Made – – – – 4th September 2020


Laid before Parliament 7th September 2020
Coming into force in accordance with article 1.
This Lord Chancellor, considering that the use of electronic communications for any purpose is
such that the extent (if any) to which records of things done for that purpose will be available will
be no less satisfactory in cases where use is made of electronic communications than in other
cases, in exercise of the powers conferred by sections 8 and 9 of the Electronic Communications
Act 2000(a), makes the following Order:
Citation and Commencement

  1. This Order may be cited as the Wills Act 1837 (Electronic Communications) (Amendment)
    (Coronavirus) Order 2020 and comes into force on the 21st day following the day on which it is
    laid.
    Amendment of the Wills Act 1837
    2.—(1) Section 9 of the Wills Act 1837(b) is amended as follows.
    (2) The existing text becomes subsection (1).
    (3) After that subsection, insert—
    “(2) For the purposes of paragraphs (c) and (d) of subsection (1), in relation to wills made
    on or after 31 January 2020 and on or before 31 January 2022, “presence” includes
    presence by means of videoconference or other visual transmission.”.
    Saving Provision
  2. Nothing in this Order affects—
    (a) any grant of probate made; or
    (b) anything done pursuant to a grant of probate, prior to this Order coming into force.

(a) c.7.
(b) c.26. Section 9 was substituted, in relation to England and Wales, by the Administration of Justice Act 1982 (c.53), section
17, and repealed, in relation to Northern Ireland, by S.I. 1994/1899.
2
Robert Buckland
Lord Chancellor
4th September 2020 Ministry of Justice


EXPLANATORY NOTE


(This note is not part of the Order)
This Order amends section 9 of the Wills Act 1837 (c.26) to provide that the witnessing of wills
may take place via videoconferencing or other visual transmission. This amendment applies where a will is made between 31 January 2020 and 31 January 2022 but does not affect any grant of probate or anything done pursuant to a grant of probate prior to its coming into force.
No impact assessment has been produced for this instrument as no, or no significant, impact on the private or voluntary sector is foreseen.

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