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Notary Service Solicitors

What is a Notary

The profession of a Notary Public is different from that of a solicitor, although most of the Notaries in England and Wales are also solicitors.  Most (but not all) of the functions of a Notary relate to personal or business transactions with a foreign element.

Most Notaries therefore undertake work for commercial organisations and individuals engaged in international business. The most popular reasons why you’ll need the service of a Notary Public at FDR Law include:

  • Preparing and witnessing Powers of Attorney for use overseas to facilitate the purchase or sale of land and property abroad or to enable litigation to be prosecuted or defended in foreign jurisdiction
  • Providing documents to deal with the administration of the estates of people who were living abroad when they died or owned property abroad
  • Authenticating personal documents and information required for immigration or emigration purposes or when someone is applying to work abroad

Are you ready to see a Notary?

If you need more information about seeing a Notary, or are ready to use our services then download our Client Care Letter, and our guide Seeing a Notary today.  They will tell you what to expect, and what is expected of you before your meeting.

Stephen Poyner offers notarial services to business clients and individuals throughout Cheshire, Manchester, Liverpool and the North West.  Please contact us to find out how Stephen can help you.

What does a Notary Public do?

Most Notaries undertake work for commercial organisations and individuals engaged in international business.  The most common tasks undertaken by Notaries include:

  • Preparing and witnessing Powers of Attorney for use overseas to facilitate the purchase or sale of land and property abroad or to enable litigation to be prosecuted or defended in foreign jurisdiction
  • Providing documents to deal with the administration of the estates of people who were living abroad when they died or owned property abroad
  • Authenticating personal documents and information required for immigration or emigration purposes or when someone is applying to work abroad

Principal duty of a Notary Public

The principal duty of a Notary is to ensure the transaction has been validly effected.  The Notary’s duty therefore is owed not only to the client who attends before him or her, but to anyone who may rely on the document and to governments or officials of other countries who may place reliance on his notarial certificate.

The Notary must ensure full compliance with the relevant requirements, both in this country and abroad. The Notary therefore must take great care to avoid errors, omissions, alterations, fraud, forgery, money laundering and the use of false identity.

It can therefore save time and therefore expense if, as long before the appointment as possible, you can let the Notary have the originals or photocopies of the documents to be notarised, any letter or form of instructions given by foreign lawyers concerning any special foreign requirements.

Formal identification will be required by the production of your original current passport or, if this is not available, your current driving licence with photo, along with a recent utility bill showing your current address.  Additional identification may also be required in certain cases.

A Notary’s Work

The principal duties of a Notary are to provide independent proof of documents, transactions and facts, to satisfy the legal requirements of authorities abroad.

Typically, this involves:

  • Documents for foreign adoption applications
  • Attesting the signature and execution of documents
  • Certifying copies of passports and other documents
  • Certifying copies of academic qualifications
  • Attesting powers of attorney and other documents for use in foreign countries
  • Sponsorship documents
  • Affidavits confirming freedom to marry (often required to marry abroad)
  • Authenticating the execution of documents
  • Authenticating the signing of ‘acknowledgment for use’ in the USA
  • Applying for legalisation of documents at UK-based foreign embassies or at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (often termed ‘obtaining an apostille’)
  • Administering oaths, affidavits and statutory declarations for foreign jurisdictions
  • Other documents for use overseas which require authentication
  • Providing Notarised copies
  • Taking evidence (depositions) for use in foreign courts

Why legalisation is necessary?

Although Stephen is an officially-appointed English Notary, some foreign countries require verification of his authority and signature.  This is achieved through a process of ‘legalisation’ or ‘apostille’ certification.

The legalisation process is achieved through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which is able to confirm the signature and seal appearing on your document is Stephen’s and that he is a Notary. This involves sending Stephen’s certificate to The Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Milton Keynes where they legalise it by signing and sealing it. The Foreign and Commonwealth office provides a three-day service and a premium same-day service which only Stephen can undertake and usually requires the services of a courier to take the documents to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. Charges for these services are subject to change so please contact us for more information.

Many countries are parties to The Hague Convention which means that they will accept the Foreign and Commonwealth Office certification, known as an apostille, without any further steps being required.

However, some countries insist that in addition to the authentication by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, their own embassy must also confirm the apostille with its own seal and the signature of an embassy official.  Costs for this service vary.

In advance of your first meeting

Before you meet Stephen in person, it would be helpful to receive all the background documents relating to your transaction in advance. This will enable him to progress your case more quickly, check what is required, possibly with foreign lawyers or other contacts, and assess any potential difficulties in advance of our first meeting.

Ideally, Stephen will need in advance:

  • A detailed summary of the transaction you wish him to deal with.
  • Copies of all relevant documents – electronic documents by email, and photocopies of other documents by post or fax.  Before sending, please double check all documents for any errors, for example in your name, dates, spellings, passport number etc.
  • Contact details in your possession for any foreign lawyers or authorities abroad who are dealing with your case.

At our first meeting

One of Stephen’s legal duties is to meet you in person to confirm your identity, and your ability and willingness to perform whatever actions are required.  He also needs to be clear of the exact requirements of the appropriate foreign authority.

Therefore, you need to bring to the meeting:

  • Evidence of identity – this should be your passport, or if you have no passport, any other government-issued document which includes your photograph, such as an EU photographic driving licence.
  • Proof of residence – a document which confirms where you live, such as a recent utility bill or bank statement. If you cannot provide this, we will need to discuss other options.
  • The document or documents which require Stephen’s seal and signature.Please do not sign or have them witnessed beforehand.Everything MUST be done in Stephen’s presence.
  • All relevant instructions relating to the documents, for example signature requirements, the colour of the ink etc.

Working for you – a step by step guide for Companies

One of Stephen’s legal duties is to meet a representative of your company or organisation, in person. This is to confirm the organisation’s existence and its ability and willingness to perform whatever actions are required.  He also needs evidence that the representative has the authority to act on behalf of your company or organisation.

Therefore your representative needs to bring to the meeting:

  • Company identification. A certificate of incorporation, certificate of good standing and/or other comparable evidence will be needed to establish the existence of the company or organisation.  For UK-based companies or organisations, Stephen will usually be able to satisfy this requirement through his own independent checks, which may incur a small charge. He may also require you to produce additional documents.
  • Proof of Authority. Official company documents confirming an individual’s authority to act, for example signed board minutes, Power of Attorney or the constitutional documents of the company e.g. memorandum and articles of association.  They must be original documents.
  • Evidence of the identity of the person who appears before Stephen – this should be their passport, or if they have no passport, any other government-issued document which bears their photograph, such as an EU photographic driving licence.
  • Proof of residence of the person who appears before Stephen – a document which confirms where they live, such as a recent utility bill or bank statement.  If they cannot provide this, we will need to discuss other ways of proving their identity and address. Stephen is legally required to satisfy himself that they are who they claim to be.
  • The document or documents which require Stephen’s seal and signature.Please do not sign or have them witnessed beforehand.Everything MUST be done in his presence.
  • All relevant instructions relating to the documents, for example signature requirements, the colour of the ink etc.

Authentication

Foreign language issues

It is in everyone’s interest that you fully understand the documents you are signing and their future implications.  To be able to check this, Stephen needs to have at least a basic understanding of the documents himself.  Therefore, if the documents are mainly in a language other than English, Stephen may need to obtain a translation and/or ask you to consult the organisation or lawyer who sent you the documents from abroad.

Third party verification

One of a Notary’s duties is to check and obtain independent verification of the facts presented to him/her.  This sometimes involves obtaining evidence or proof from sources independent of the client.  This does not imply mistrust in any way and is simply part of the legal authentication process.  We would appreciate your full cooperation and assistance in this.

In some cases, we may ask you to provide additional documents.  For instance, companies or organisations based abroad may be asked to produce a certificate of incorporation or good standing certificate.  Without these, we may have to commission specialist agents abroad to provide appropriate authentication.  Obviously, this would incur additional costs.

Completion

How long will my case take to complete?

Sometimes, in urgent cases, it is possible for Stephen to complete your transaction within a few hours of the first instruction.

If a document is straightforward, already prepared and correctly worded, our work is usually completed in one or two days. If the documents are complex or if Stephen must draw up new documents or undertake other work, it will take longer.

Occasionally it is necessary to have the document ‘legalised’ by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and/or the appropriate Foreign Embassy.  This will take several days.

When do I get the documents?

Your documents will be released once your fees are paid.  The documents can either be handed back to you or sent to a lawyer or organisation, at home or abroad, by post or courier, as you wish.

Is a copy kept?

A Notary is required by law to keep a copy of all the transactions carried out on your behalf for at least 12 years, and in some cases, permanently.

Charges

Charges for notarial services are normally time based plus expenses. Charges by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are subject to change so to find out the latest fee please contacts us.

As a guide, a single document requiring no further amendment or explanation will normally take about 20 minutes to deal with and a further 10 minutes if an apostille is required.

To learn more about using the services of a Notary, please contact us.

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