Authentication of documents through videoconference

On July 22, 2021, a legal regime regarding the authentication of documents by Notaries or other public entities through videoconference was approved. This legal regime is still waiting to be published.

The legal regime arises in the context of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, in order to overcome the difficulties caused by the restrictions imposed on face-to-face acts and the consequent demand for online services.

These acts that require the physical presence of the intervening parties before the Portuguese competent authorities, as Notaries, consular agents, lawyers and solicitors, may be carried out remotely, through videoconference, as from November 15, 2021 onwards.

The legal regime will implement an innovative and relevant tool for citizens, companies and professionals, with a high impact on legal commerce, without waiving, however, the observance of the formalities legally imposed for the practice of acts and offering identical guarantees of security and authenticity.

The performance of authentication or certification through videoconference will include several acts, such as legal authentication of letters or signatures, authentication of powers of attorney and any other private documents such as public deeds of acquisition, of use and housing, of surface, of loan, of mortgage, of donation, of creation of horizontal property, of division of a common asset, promissory agreement of purchase and sale effective to third parties, among others, without the need for the presence of the Portuguese competent authorities, Notaries, lawyers or solicitors.

Under the terms and for the purposes of the approved legal regime, the Portuguese competent authorities are excluded from carrying out the recognition of Wills or any related acts through videoconference, being solely authorized to carry out, by videoconference, (i) the acts related to Casa Pronta, (ii) the process of separation or divorce by mutual consent and (iii) the accreditation of heirs, with or without partition of assets.

The performance of the abovementioned acts may, by force of the new legal regime, be performed through a new platform that will be made available by the Ministry of Justice, with access being made from the digital justice platform and managed by Instituto de Gestão Financeira e Equipamentos da Justiça, in articulation with the Instituto dos Registos e do Notariado, and will be composed by two distinct reserved areas, one for individuals and another for professionals.

These reserved areas are going to act as the platform through which it will be possible for both individuals and professionals to submit and access the necessary documentation, sign such documents through qualified electronic signature, access the videoconference sessions and provide consent for audiovisual recording.

The access to the reserved area will be made through an authentication process of each user, made through individuals’ personal identification document, or “chave móvel digital,” or any other means issued and authorised by other Member States belonging to the European Union which are recognised for that purpose, under the terms of the regulation regarding electronic identification for electronic transactions in the internal market.

By Dr Eduardo Serra Jorge
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Dr Eduardo Serra Jorge is founding member, senior partner and CEO of lawyers firm Eduardo Serra Jorge & Maria José Garcia – Sociedade de Advogados, R.L., created in 1987.
In his column, he addresses legal issues affecting foreign residents in Portugal.
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