Now that this is out of the way, I have to say that I completely agree with the Law Society’s best practice recommendation about virtual commissioning that I recently saw. Let me explain why.
Law Society of Ontario published a virtual commissioning best practice recommendation on its website. I don’t known when they did it because the page does not have a date. You will have to take my word for it or google it yourself (because I can’t link to it without requesting and obtaining a written consent of the Law Society—sorry for going on and on about this).
The gist of the recommendation is two-part. First, it’s to protect the integrity of evidence and of administration of justice. Commissioners get their power to administer oaths and affirmations on condition that they screen witnesses and documents for certain attributes. For example, commissioners must know or verify witnesses’ identity, make sure that witnesses give evidence freely and knowingly, and see that the oath or affirmation appears to bind the witness’s conscience. Modern technology is not yet where we can simply assume that virtual commissioning will satisfy these requirements. I will go into the first principles of commissioning below to show why even such a technology proponent as I agrees with the Law Society on this.