Notary Public and commercial law services in Norfolk
I am regulated by the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, which issues practising certificates to all notaries public in England and Wales and I carry professional indemnity insurance. Their web site has a list of all practising notaries.
What is a notary and what is notarisation?
Notaries authenticate documents for use abroad. We are highly trained and experienced lawyers, regulated in what we do. We carry professional indemnity insurance in the same way as other lawyers do. Because most notaries are or have been solicitors also it is arguable that we are the most highly qualified of any lawyer you will find!
Notarisation is not just witnessing a document. It is much more than that.
In most countries of the world that have a civil law system, which comes from Roman law, the notary is the independent guarantor of the legality of a document. It is said that the notary owes his main duty to the transaction, rather than the parties. This is why in France or Spain, for example, a notary will act for both parties in a transaction.
In "common law" countries like England or many commonwealth countries, the same rules do not apply. Despite this, the notary's signature and seal is seen as an additional guarantee of the authenticity of the document that has been notarised.
What do I need from you?
When a notary deals with your document he is verifying certain things which the receiving country can rely on. First, I will have to confirm that the person in front of me is who he says he is. In the days of increasing identity theft and internet and other fraud, this is hugely important. This means I will need you to bring in your original passport and a recent document to prove your address.
Secondly, I will be confiming that you have an understanding of the document and its legal effect. This is difficult enough with an English document, but documents for use in other jurisdictions may have legal effects which are not immediately apparent. Whilst I cannot advise on foreign laws, I have a duty to check that you understand the main effects of the document.
Next, I must ensure you have the authority to sign the document. This is not usually an issue if you are an individual, but if you are signing on behalf of a company as a director I will need to verify that your company exists and that you have the authority of the company. Directors of English companies have almost unlimited legal authority, but in many countries they expect to see a resolution of the board of directors authorising the signing of the document in question. It may therefore be necessary to see a signed copy of a resolution authorising the signing of the document by the director.
Finally, I have to ensure that you have capacity to sign the document. With an individual, this can mean ensuring you are over 18 years or that you are not suffering from a disability. In the case of a company it usually means checking to see that you are duly appointed as a director and authorised to act.
My signature and seal signify all these things to the rest of the world. I am also warranting that the document is executed in accordance with any formalities which apply in England. Generally, a document which is executed in accordance with the laws of the place of execution will be recognised as validly executed by a foreign country. This is a general rule of international law. At the end of this process I have to keep a complete record of the notarisation and of your details and also keep a copy of the document.
After I have signed and sealed the document, it will often need to be sent for legalisation. This is a requirement of the county where the document is going. The legalisation requirements vary from country to country, but almost all have the minimum requirement of an Apostille. This is obtained by sending the document to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office This is a verification of the Notary's signature and seal. The Apostille is internationally recognised by many countries, all of whom will have signed up to the Hague Convention. Some countries also want legalisation through their own consulates. You should check in advance with the person the document is going to whether it needs legalisation, though the I will advise you of what is usual for the country concerned. You need to allow time for the legalisation to happen. Legalisation at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office usually takes 2 to 3 working days, but consulates vary from a few hours to several weeks.
You should if possible send the document to me in advance. This will enable me to give you a quote for my fees and for the cost on any legalisation or translation work. Fees are normally payable at the time of the appointment.