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Legal Case

FL Supreme Court Administrative Orders (2020)

Notary Law Update: FL Supreme Court Administrative Orders (2020)

State: Florida

Summary:

Florida Supreme Court administrative orders allow all Notaries to administer oaths remotely by audio-video communication.

Signed:  March 18, 2020

Effective:  March 18, 2020

Chapter: N/A

Affects:

All Florida Notaries Public.

Changes:
  1. Authorizes Notaries and other persons qualified to administer an oath in the state of Florida to swear a witness remotely by audio-video communication technology from a location within the state of Florida provided they can positively identify the witness.
  2. Provides that if a witness is not located within the state of Florida, a witness may consent to be put on oath via audio-video communication technology by a person qualified to administer an oath in the state of Florida.
  3. Provides that all rules of procedure, court orders, and opinions applicable to remote testimony, depositions, and other legal testimony, including the attestation of family law forms, that can be read to limit or prohibit the use of audio-video communications equipment to administer oaths remotely or to witness the attestation of family law forms, are hereby suspended, and will remain suspended until the expiration of the provisions of paragraph five in In Re: COVID-19 Emergency Procedures in the Florida State Courts, Fla. Admin. Order No. AOSC20-13 (March 13, 2020), and any orders extending AOSC20-13.
  4. Authorizes Notaries and other persons qualified to administer an oath in Florida to swear in new attorneys to The Florida Bar remotely by audio-video communication technology from a location within the State of Florida, provided they can positively identify the new attorney.
  5. Provides that for purposes of the provisions regarding the administering of oaths, the term “positively identify” means that the Notary or other qualified person can both see and hear the witness or new attorney via audio-video communications equipment for purposes of readily identifying the witness or new attorney.
Analysis:

Effective January 1, 2020, all Florida Notaries who register as an online Notary are authorized to perform remote online notarial acts. The Florida Supreme Court's administrative order allows any Notary -- who is or is not registered as an online Notary -- to administer oaths remotely to a witness in a court proceeding, deposition, testimony, etc. The only requirements are that the Notary must be located in the state of Florida when administering the oath and able to verify the identity of the witness. If the witness is located outside of Florida, they must consent to have a Florida Notary administer the oath. If this is the case, the Florida Notary must obtain the necessary consent, if it has not been received from the witness. It is important to emphasize this order is not permanent, but temporary.

Read the administrative order.

On June 16, 2020, the Court issued Administrative Order No. AOSC20-23, Amendment 4. All authorizations under the prior Order are extended, and a new authorization is added (See Changes 4 and 5, above). The Order remains in effect until In re: COVID-19 Public Health and Safety Precautions for Phase 2, Fla. Admin. Order No. AOSC20-32, Amendment 1 (June 16, 2020), is amended or terminated or unless a different end date is indicated in Order AOSC20-23, Amendment 4, or as may be provided by subsequent order.

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