Bank and KiwiSaver providers’ lockdown document positions

Pile of mail waiting to be sorted

A compilation of New Zealand banks and KiwiSaver providers’ positions on accepting electronically signed documents and/or video conference witnessed statutory declarations during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Note: Before relying on this information you should check directly with the relevant organisation.

Banks – loan documentation

ASB and BNZ were approached for their position but had not provided a response as at the last time this post was updated.

ANZ

ANZ’s final guidance for solicitors document can be found here: ANZ – We’re here to help – managing ANZ lending and security transactions during Covid-19 Alert Level 3 (pdf) (updated email on 30 April 2020).

The Co-operative Bank

The Co-operative Bank will accept documents completed, signed, and witnessed virtually, along with the usual solicitor certificate undertakings. However, if signing is completed electronically they require proper signed copies of the loan contract within 14 days following a return to COVID-19 level 2 (email on 21 April 2020, updated on 30 April 2020).

Kiwibank

Kiwibank say: “We’re taking a case-by-case approach to this, and we recommend that customers or their solicitors contact us directly to work through this.

During lockdown we may accept digital signatures on the basis that they comply with the requirements set out:

  1. on the LINZ website; and
  2. in Part 4, Subpart 3 of the Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017.

We may also accept video conference witnessing, where we’ll work directly with you or your solicitor on what’s required.”

(updated email on 23 April 2020)

SBS

SBS will accept electronic signatures during the lockdown as long as the solicitor has advised that they are aware these are electronic, can verify them, and advises that the signatures are electronic due to the lockdown (email on 14 April 2020).

TSB

TSB will accept documents that are completed, signed and witnessed virtually along with the usual undertakings contained in the solicitor’s certificate.

If signing is completed electronically TSB needs to receive proper signed copies of the loan contract within 14 days following a return to COVID-19 level 2 response (email on 14 April 2020).

Westpac

Westpac are accepting electronic signatures for existing customers topping up loans, but are not accepting electronic signatures for new lending at this stage (email on 15 April 2020).

KiwiSaver providers – First home withdrawals

AMP

AMP will accept digital signatures or no signature if a customer is unable to do a digital one. They will call and email to complete identification checks. Identification can be verified by a photo being sent through of the customer holding their identification. They will accept non-certified supporting documents. Solicitors can email documents to [email protected]. A representative from AMP will be in contact with customers regarding the statutory declaration once their application has been submitted (email on 15 April 2020).

ANZ KiwiSaver

While restrictions remain in place ANZ will accept electronic documents (such as an online bill) or scanned/photographed images of paper documents as long as: the document is able to be read clearly, and all images within the document are sharp and in focus. However they say that documents have to be verified by a solicitor or a JP. Some ANZ branches are open on Wednesdays from 9am to noon and branch staff can verify documents as well (email on 14 April 2020).

See also the guidance on their website (email on 23 April 2020).

Aon

Aon will accept statutory declarations completed remotely via video conference in line with the NZLS guidelines (email on 15 April 2020).

ASB KiwiSaver

ASB will accept statutory declarations completed remotely via video conference in line with the NZLS guidelines. They will accept a first home withdrawal application and certified copies of identification by email. They are aware that this will pose challenges for some members and ASB along with other KiwiSaver providers are raising their concerns with the government (email on 15 April 2020).

BNZ KiwiSaver

BNZ will accept email applications sent from solicitors including emailed copies of certified IDs and statutory declarations. BNZ will accept a remotely witnessed statutory declaration in line with the NZLS memo (email on 14 April 2020).

Booster

Booster will accept statutory declarations completed via video conference. They can attempt to verify customer ID remotely through an online verification service (email on 14 April 2020).

Craigs Investment Partners

Craigs Investment Partners will accept scanned and emailed copies of withdrawal forms (with the originals posted at COVID-19 level 2 or lower). They will also accept statutory declarations completed remotely via video conference in line with the NZLS guidelines (email on 20 April 2020).

Fisher Funds

Fisher Funds say: “Due to the current COVID-19 lockdown period there may be some delay in Fisher Funds receiving the withdrawal forms via mail. If your client’s statutory declaration has been correctly witnessed, we can potentially grant a temporary exemption to this as the forms have been received via email. This would be granted on the understanding the application is fully completed and originals are sent once the lockdown has been lifted” (email on 14 April 2020).

Kiwi Wealth

Kiwi Wealth will accept statutory declarations completed remotely via video conference. They have an electronic verification process that can be used if the certified ID/proof of address documents received are not satisfactory. They will accept documents emailed to [email protected] from a solicitor or the member’s registered email address (email on 15 April 2020).

Lifestages

Lifestages will accept electronic documentation from solicitors. Will accept identity verification and statutory declarations done over video conference by solicitors (email on 14 April 2020).

MAS

MAS will accept a statutory declaration that a solicitor has taken by video conference along with a statement per the guidelines. ID and address verification of many customers can be completed remotely with photographs of the identification if the customer agrees to MAS using a third-party service to do so (email on 14 April 2020).

Mercer

Mercer will accept first home withdrawal documents electronically. Current New Zealand driver licences and passports may be able to be used to verify identity electronically. They will accept statutory declarations completed remotely via video conference in line with the NZLS guidelines (email on 15 April 2020).

Simplicity

Simplicity are accepting first home withdrawal applications with documents witnessed via video conferencing technology in accordance with the NZLS guidelines (email on 14 April 2020).

SuperLife

SuperLife continues to accept scanned and emailed versions of the first home withdrawal documents. They are able to perform identity and address verification of customers remotely. They will accept statutory declarations completed remotely via video conference in line with the NZLS guidelines (email on 14 April 2020).

Westpac KiwiSaver

Westpac will accept complete documentation via email. Solicitors should scan and email documents to [email protected] (email on 14 April 2020).

Photo credit: Sharon McCutcheon

Lockdown survival tips for New Zealand lawyers

Survival tips for New Zealand lawyers working through the COVID-19 lockdown

Fence in a field by Omar Lopez - omarlopez1
Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

This post is not legal advice, but a collection of points that lawyers may find useful to consider while working during the COVID-19 lockdown. If you require legal advice you should instruct a lawyer.

Other posts in this series:

Witnessing affidavits/declarations remotely

  • On 16 April 2020 the Epidemic Preparedness (Oaths and Declarations Act 1957) Immediate Modification Order 2020 came into force which modifies the Oaths and Declarations Act. This came into force after the NZ Law Society opinion mentioned below was written.
  • If the client and independent lawyer both have a printer and scanner, see Paul Collins’ opinion on remote witnessing for the NZ Law Society here, and draft certificate here (docx), if not, see the below section Signing documents/unsworn affidavits.
  • If a deponent does not have access to a physical bible, can they affirm their affidavit instead of swearing, or bring up an online bible/bible app on their phone?

Signing documents electronically

Wills/Enduring Powers of Attorney

See also information from the Property Law Section from 16 April 2020 with guidance on drafting wills and enduring powers of attorney during the lockdown and executing them via AVL (pdf) however note this was drafted prior to the Wills Act immediate modification order which includes a modified attestation section.

  • [No longer relevant, see the immediate modification order] Consider whether the suggested clause iv. may place doubt over the document if the client does not have it witnessed in the traditional way when physically able to.
  • See the linked attachments including Paul Collins’ opinion, Theresa Donnelly of Perpetual Guardian’s document on validation applications, and checklists for drafting EPAs/wills during this time.

Family law

Resources for children/parents

Links collated by the Family Law Section (pdf):

Shared care

Witnessing relationship property agreements by video conference

See Ingrid Squire’s 2014 article in the New Zealand Law Society Family Law Section’s Family Advocate, To Skype or not to Skype: that is the question (pdf) on things to consider when witnessing a relationship property agreement by video conference.

Example of an audio-visual clause for inclusion in a relationship property agreement (republished with permission from Lady Deborah Chambers QC):

“Both [party one] and [party two] acknowledge and agree that both parties will execute this agreement before their lawyer using a Skype, FaceTime or WhatsApp connection and on that basis their lawyers will witness their signatures and give an explanation as to the effects and implications of this agreement.

The parties agree to this document being executed using that technology and agree that they will not attempt to set aside the agreement on the basis that execution and witness of signature occurred using internet connection. They also agree that it will be necessary for each party to send a scanned copy of their signed agreement to their lawyers in New Zealand for them to then complete the document. The fact that it is a scanned copy will also not invalidate the document.

The parties may sign separate copies of this agreement but once all parties have signed separate copies they will form a final binding agreement.”

Care and Protection

See Oranga Tamariki’s internal guidance on Family Group Conferences (PDF) and access (PDF).

Conveyancing

Deferring settlement

See the Property Law Section of the New Zealand Law Society Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa‘s suggested wording to defer settlement:

“The parties agree that settlement is hereby deferred to the 10th working day after the Government reduces the COVID-19 Level to Level 2 or below, or to such other date as may be mutually agreed. For the sake of clarity neither party shall have any claim against the other in relation to this deferral.”

But consider:

  • If the property, both lawyers, and the seller and purchaser are not in the same area, what if there are regional differences in the COVID-19 level?
  • Workload if all settlements are deferred to the 10th working day.

Accessing Landonline

  • Can you remote onto the computer your digital certificate is stored on?
  • Can you transfer your certificate to another computer? See the information on the LINZ website here or contact LINZ.
  • Is there another user (e.g. a colleague, your attorney) that would be able to access your workspace?

Authority & Instruction forms (A&Is)

KiwiSaver

If your clients’ are relying on KiwiSaver funds for a future settlement, are their funds at risk from market fluctuation, or are they in a cash fund?

Courts

Priority proceedings

  • See the list on the Ministry of Justice website.
  • If needing to travel for priority proceedings, print or save/screenshot to your phone the email from the Law Society sent to all lawyers on 8 April 2020, subject ‘Confirmation of being a practising lawyer’.

Filing documents electronically

Service

  • Court bailiffs may not be serving documents at all (check with the Court), so unless service will be undertaken by Police, address service in application/interlocutory application.
  • One option if electronic (email/social media) service is not available (from Wellington Family Law Section):
    • Ask the Court to direct the respondent to attend the registry to collect the documents as arranged by the registry. The case officer is to contact the respondent by telephone to advise the documents are ready to be collected. The notice period begins from the time the registry advise the respondent and they are to be advised that if they do not make arrangements with the registry to collect or otherwise obtain a copy of the documents, they will be deemed to have had notice of the proceedings and the court will continue to progress the application as directed.

Signing documents/unsworn affidavits

  • If the deponent has a printer, can they print and sign the document and scan it to you or take a photo of it (or at least the jurat page) using a scanning app like Microsoft Office Lens?
  • If the client does not have access to video chat/a printer/a scanner can they extend their bubble to include someone who does?
  • Can they sign the document electronically? See options in this post.
  • Can you amend the lawyer’s certificate to explain why the document is unsigned/signed in a different way, or file a memorandum of counsel?
    • See the Principal Family Court Judge Jackie Moran’s Guidelines for Family Law Practitioners during period of epidemic notice (pdf)
      • An adaption of the without notice certificate statement in those guidelines: “The affidavit filed in support of this application was prepared in accordance with the deponent’s specific instructions. [It was read/An electronic version was provided] to them. The deponent confirmed that they fully understood the affidavit and that the contents of it were true and correct to the best of their knowledge and belief.”
      • Note the difficulties of providing an undertaking as worded in the guidelines that you will file an affidavit when 1) that is not solely under your control and 2) circumstances may have changed which makes filing an affidavit containing the same information misleading.

Information in without notice Family Court affidavits

From the Principal Family Court Judge Jackie Moran, reported in Family Law Section Bulletin 420 – 25 March 2020 (pdf):

“Judges on the e-duty platform have encountered a lack of specificity in some affidavits filed in support of without notice applications seeking orders for day-to-day care and/or the enforcement of day-to-day care orders due to [COVID-19].

It is imperative that affidavits contain all relevant information including, but not exclusive to, the following:
• the terms of the parenting order;
• the occupants of the property/properties;
• whether any occupants are engaged in an essential service;
• steps taken to ensure compliance with the lock down;
• comprehensive details of any health issues;
• the mode of travel between the respective homes and who will undertake that travel; and
• the distance between the homes.”

Appearing via AVL

Tips from the NZLS heads of bench webinar:

  • Robes are not necessary. Dress in formal business attire.
  • You do not need to stand up when speaking.
  • Raise your hand toward the screen to signal an interruption (instead of standing up in a courtroom to signal you would like to speak) but these should be rare.
  • Set up your workspace appropriately and consider your background.
  • Read the information that the Court has provided you.
  • Follow the other usual rules that apply during hearings.

Also, consider if participating remotely will be particularly difficult for your client for example: for linguistic reasons, developmental reasons or that there is no private space away from children.

See the protocols on the Courts of New Zealand website.

Criminal

Emailing documents to prisons

See this letter from the CEO of Department of Corrections (pdf) regarding emailing documents for prison staff to print.

List of prison email addresses (pdf) last updated 8 April 2020.

  • Consider a cover letter and/or stamp over the documents regarding legal privilege.

Note that family and friends can also email prisoners, see here, however prisoners cannot reply by email. Prisoners will be given a $5 phone card every week until visits recommence, see here.

Contacting clients in prison

See the information from the Department of Corrections to request phone or AVL meetings with clients (PDF, from around 15 April 2020) and the update from 20 April 2020 (PDF).

Bail

See the 7 April 2020 letter from Crown Law to Crown solicitors and public prosecutors (pdf); the 15 April 2020 letter from Crown Law for distribution to lawyers (pdf); and the 15 April 2020 letter from Crown Law to Crown solicitors and public prosecutors (pdf) regarding the approach to bail.

See the 16 April 2020 letter from barrister Douglas A. Ewen in reply (pdf).

Legal aid

  • Application forms do not need to be signed, see update here (emailed out on 25 March 2020 and updated online 7 April 2020).

Family Legal Advice Service (FLAS)

  • Family Legal Advice Service (FLAS) funding forms do not need to be signed by the client, see update here (9 April 2020).

Leases

Health Act orders

Other resources

Updated 19 April 2020: Added information on contacting clients in prison; updated wills section and added information on enduring powers of attorney; added information on appearing by AVL.

Updated 20 April 2020: Explained where the Family Advocate article is from; added information about the Wills Act and Oaths and Declarations Act immediate modification orders; added information about bail.

Updated 30 April 2020: Updated conveyancing, A&I, affidavits/declarations, wills/EPAs, shared care, leases, appearing via AVL, contacting clients in prison, Health Act orders, signing documents, and other resources sections. Added care and protection section.

Financial Advice

Money

Here is a New Zealand Herald article that contains some shitty and some good advice about money.

Thumbs down

Buying over renting

Buy property young, preferably in your 20s. Move heaven and earth to get the deposit. Rent is wasted money.

Buying a house is not for everyone. Sometimes it doesn’t make financial sense for a particular person. Insurance, rates, money spent on repairs (~$5k~ a year) etc. sometimes make renting a better choice. Run the numbers.

Avoid fines

It’s moronic to incur fines. Like the maniac driver in a big red American-style pickup truck who overtook me on State Highway 2 on December 17, just to be pulled over and fined.

Yes, you shouldn’t speed etc. etc., but this doesn’t contain any useful advice if you do get a fine. Actual advice would be to set up an automatic payment account to a ‘Stupid mistakes’ savings account so you have money to pay inevitable fines.

NEVER SPEND MONEY EVAAAA

Every dollar is precious. Think before you spend it.

I regret frittering money on coffees and unnecessary eating out. It would be better to direct that money towards savings.

Needs and wants are often confused. This is perhaps the biggest financial mistake that people make.

If you enjoy a coffee a day, buy a coffee a day. If you enjoy eating out, eat out. There’s no point earning money if you don’t spend it on stuff you love. Cut back on the stuff you don’t care about, optimize existing spending (subscriptions and phone/internet/TV/power etc. plans) and/or earn more money.

Have a [email protected]@111

Track your spending. You can’t budget if you don’t know what you’re spending.

Perhaps the most popular piece of financial advice ever given out. How many people who write this actually do in it in practice, I’m not sure. Tracking your spending by typing into a spreadsheet or basically anything with mainly manual entry is doomed to fail. Xero with BNZ and ASB by itself both offer spending tracking services within online banking. Or, Xero allows the import of other bank’s transactions. Do mainly electronic transactions (because they can automatically coded into categories) and use these.

Credit cards

Credit cards make you look rich. Anyone can live well for a few years, but the debt catches up.

Credit cards with benefits that are automatically paid off each month are excellent.

Thumbs up

Judging people

People are too quick to judge others’ financial decisions, me included.

1) No one wants unsolicited advice. 2) You have your own problems to worry about.

Pay bills

Pay your taxes on time. The IRD has a big stick.

Pay all bills on time. Automate them. The IRD and other companies are always up for negotiation around deadlines.

Experiences

Spending money on experiences is good spending. I am eternally grateful that I sold all but one of my shares at age 22 (by coincidence in August 1987) and went backpacking through Latin America. It’s good spending if the experience enriches life.

Yes. Also, give experiences as presents instead of physical things.

Save for things. Automatically.

Save before you buy. A bit of a radical concept in 2011, but it can change people’s financial future.

Enter into interest-free deals cautiously

Interest-free hire purchase deals are for suckers. You still pay ad establishment fee and the majority of people fail to clear the debt on time and pay interest anyway.

These places invariably have great clauses such as charging you if you pay anything over the set monthly amount. Once you’ve finished paying the item off you get mailed offers from the company for ever and ever.

Avoid interest

Interest payments on personal loans, credit cards and HP are “idiot tax”. Why throw money away unnecessarily?

Work out how much something will really cost when interest is added before jumping into these. There’s calculators online that will help.

KiwiSaver

KiwiSaver is good.

Get in it.

Advice

Take your advice from people who have been through several cycles. Johnny-come-latelies going through their first financial cycle underestimate the risks.

Ask older people what they would have liked to have known at your age. What would they save for if they could turn back the clock?

Read a book

You can learn more about money. The easiest and cheapest way to improve your knowledge is to get a book out of the library.

Image credit: 401k/401kcalculator.org

The 2011 Budget and KiwiSaver

Piggy bank savingsKiwiSaver will be affected by National 2011’s budget, but it will still be a worthwhile scheme for nearly everyone under 65 to be in.

  • The member tax credit from the Government (which doesn’t apply to under 18s) accruing from July 2011, is going to be cut in half from $1 per $1 matching to 50 cents to $1 matching. So to get the full match you’ll have to save about $20 a week ($1040/year) and will get a $10 match ($520/year) from the Government.
  • To balance this out, minimum contributions will be raised for employees and their employers to 3% from April 2013 (the other employee options will stay as 4% and 8%).
  • However the employer contribution will be taxed from April 2012 (the 2% minimum will end up being about 1.34-1.79% depending on your tax rate, the new 3% about 2.01-2.685%).

This will affect the un/self-employed because their tax credit will be reduced with no balancing employer contribution. Increased employer contributions will benefit people planning to buy a first home using their KiwiSaver savings as they’re unable to withdraw member tax credits anyway. A likely reduction in pay rises because of the increased employer contributions will affect KiwiSaver and non-KiwiSaver employees.

Standard and Poor’s says that the changes “could push New Zealand further into debt and would need to be part of an overall package to boost national savings.”

The $1000 Government kick-start, the up to $5000 first home deposit subsidy and the requirement of being in the scheme for at least a year before you’re able to go on a contributions holiday are staying.

The kick-start, tax credit and employer contributions are still free money.

Ramit Sethi has an excellent book called I Will Teach You To Be Rich which is available from Amazon and The Book Depository—who have free shipping to basically everywhere. He recommends young people invest about 10% of their income and take advantage of available employer/tax benefits. Eg. contributing the minimum into KiwiSaver, getting the employer match (and if necessary topping up contributions to $1040 to get the $1040/$520 government match, but set it up so it’s done automatically each pay period), then invest the rest of the 10% in a non-KiwiSaver scheme. The main benefit of a non-KiwiSaver scheme compared to KiwiSaver is laxer withdrawal rules—the withdrawal age is likely lower, plus if it’s employer based, employers may contribute a higher amount than in KiwiSaver)

I like SuperLife as a KiwiSaver fund provider because of, among other things, their AIMAge Steps fund which automatically re-balances asset allocation from assets like shares to assets like cash as you age. Mary Holm has a book called The Complete KiwiSaver which is from 2009 but will still be largely relevant to making decisions about things like funds and providers.

Are you in Kiwisaver and why or why not?

Image credit: Alan Cleaver