Y’all Ready For This?
Web Cam Notarizations Begin Next Week
Starting July 1, 2012, the Commonwealth of Virginia becomes the first state to authorize a principal document signer to be in a remote location and have a document notarized electronically. The statute permits the use of “video and audio conference technology” (i.e. “web cams”) to be used in establishing “satisfactory evidence of identity.” The statutory language can be found here
in the “Definitions” section. A more concise explanation can be found on page 9 of the “Handbook for Virginia Notaries Public”
(Editor's note: this Comment was last updated on Aug. 26, 2014)
The Constructive Notice Newsletter is not in the habit of dropping rap lyrics into item headings. But it seemed apropos in this case. In one sense, the stereotypical southern locution underscores the source of the new law, and in another sense, the menacing lyric underscores the melodrama which the new practice stirs up in some quarters. (Cringe not, opera lovers, jazz aficionados and rock ‘n’ rollers. Your chance at underscoring will surely come.)
Legislatures or officials in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, Iowa, New Jersey, North Carolina, the Northern Mariana Islands, Oklahoma, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Utah have declared web cam notarizations unacceptable in their jurisdictions. Does the practice really signal the coming of the apocalypse? Or, is this just an overreaction to the inevitable? We have not done a state-by-state analysis, but most recognize a notarization done in conformity with sister state law. In addition, there are state and federal evidence rules that recognize self- authenticating notarial acts, not to mention the Full Faith and Credit clause of the U.S. Constitution.
With the continuing proliferation of e-recording statutes and adaptation of technology to the closing process, one prediction we feel confident in making is that an underwriting or agency counsel will get a frantic phone call from a “web cam closing” in the not-too-distant future. Be prepared to answer it.