What is Remote or Virtual Consultation?
It is consultation by telephone or by videoconferencing – consultation other than in person.
If the transaction with the lawyer involves a financial transaction, we as lawyers must take special measures to properly identify the client when using videoconferencing technology. If the consultation does not involve a financial transaction, identification of the client may not be required or is less stringent. Unlike telephone consultations or conferencing, audio-video technology provides an added layer of visual verification that may be necessary, depending on the nature of the consultation or transaction. Generally speaking, stringent measures to properly identify the client is necessary to protect all parties concerned from fraudulent transactions and money laundering.
Proper client identification is also necessary when using videoconferencing technology to witness a client’s will. Click here to read more about getting your will done remotely.
Since the Covid Shutdown, if lawyers are unable to meet with clients due to medical concerns, we are also permitted to commission affidavits and statutory declarations using videoconferencing technologies. Again, we are required under these circumstances to take special measures to properly identify the deponent before commissioning the document.
Another instance where client identification is critical is when witnessing a client’s signature on land title documents remotely. Due to the Covid Shutdown, the Land Title Authority has permitted remote witnessing of various land title documents. This would be a clear example of a “financial transaction” since dealings with land is a commodity and is financial in nature.
How Do You Verify Client Identities?
The extent to which client identification is required depends on the nature of the transaction. If it is a simple first consultation prior to signing a retainer agreement, photo identification being emailed to the lawyer may suffice. Following the receipt of the photo ID, the consultation may be done by telephone or videoconferencing. If the consultation involves further steps, such as receiving a retainer in excess of $7,500, we may require an in person meeting or require further client identification such as comparing your photo ID to a visual comparison while videoconferencing. If the consultation is with an ongoing client, there is no ongoing requirement to identify the client unless the particular transaction that is done remotely requires it. For example, if an existing client requires the commissioning of his or her affidavit, stringent client identification protocols must be taken in order to comply with the latest Ministerial Orders. The same would apply to witnessing land title documents, as specific regulations govern specific transactions. It all depends on the facts of each case.
As of July 2020, we will be providing limited remote legal services, such as consultations, wills, court filings, BC Registry filings (for corporate filings), desk order applications, and limited land title filings. We use the following audio-visual technologies: Zoom, Wire, Skype & Microsoft Teams. Please contact us for further details or questions.