Under the new Act on Attorneys, since January 2018, attorneys at law may countersign documents even if they witnessed the execution of the act of signing or the client’s acknowledgement of the signature as his/her own only through a videophone.
However, this method still required a previous personal meeting between the client and the attorney at law for the purposes of identity verification.
Although there is no such specific requirement attached to the identity verification in the Act on Attorneys that would oblige the attorney at law to meet the client in person, according to the new Act on Prevention of Money Laundering, identity verification without personal presence shall be subject to the related permission of the regional chamber. The Budapest Bar Association has decided on 1 October this year on the permission of such remote identity verification. The conditions of remote identity verification set by the Bar Association are met by the recent desktop versions of Skype (a computer program used for videophone calls), as these allow already the recording of the transmitted voice and audio as well.
Furthermore, the remote identity verification requires also the consent of the concerned person. In the course of the process, the person to be identified shall present all sides of his/her personal papers to the camera, so that the documents are properly visible and legible. The recorded personal data are to be read out loud by the person to be identified, while the attorney at law has to make sure that photograph on the presented paper and the natural person presenting it are identical. The whole process of such identity verification has to be recorded by the proceeding attorney at law.
The remote identity verification contributes to the significant decrease in the costs of clients residing in foreign countries, as the involvement of foreign public notaries and consuls in the identification procedure becomes needless.
Other regional chambers are expected to adopt similar decisions in the near future, making the possibility of remote client identity verification available for the attorneys at law countrywide.