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Notarial Services

 

We prepare, authenticate and attest documents intended for foreign jurisdictions with notarial certification and apostille certification. The types of documents which often require to be notarially certified include:

  • declarations
  • powers of attorney
  • deeds of sale for use in foreign jurisdictions
  • commercial protests on bills of exchange and shipping matters.

WHAT IS A NOTARY?

A Notary is a public officer authorised by the state to certify and authenticate writings, documents (such as powers of attorney, deeds, certificates of birth and death, company certificates) and certain acts. The signature and official seal of a Notary are recognised internationally.

WHO IS A NOTARY?

In Hong Kong, a Notary must be a solicitor who has been practising for at least 7 years and has passed further examinations on notarial practise. They are then appointed to the office of a Notary by the Chief Judge of the High Court and is subject to stringent rules relating to the maintenance of insurance and fidelity cover and rules relating to conduct and discipline.

WHEN IS A NOTARY REQUIRED?

A Notary is required when documents need to be presented in a foreign country. Documents may be drawn up by Notary or existing documents and their translations are notarially certified. This will often be the case where academic certificates are presented overseas when going to study or work abroad, where legal documents are to be translated so as to take effect in a foreign jurisdiction, if property is being bought abroad, if a company needs to authorise another to act on its behalf overseas, or if you are involved in litigation in foreign Courts. All countries will usually require documents to be notarised if coming from another jurisdiction. Most of these will also require Apostille certification from a competent authority and certain countries will also require legalisation from their consular office.

HOW DOES A NOTARY ACT DIFFERENTLY TO A SOLICITOR?

There are two notable diferences. Firstly, a Notary's duty is to the whole transaction and not just to one party, usually the client, A Notary may actually act for both the parties to a transaction as long as no conflict of interest exists between them. Secondly, a Notary is individually identified in the transaction of authentication through an official seal. A Notary's seal will be registered with the High Court and with many foreign consulates.

APOSTILLE AND LEGALISATION

In 1961 the The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents did as its title suggests as between state signatories to the convention and subsequently also with those countries that acceeded to or ratified the Convention. It has the effect of reducing tortuous route that documents must traverse otherwise including the certification of the Notaries signature and seal by the state authority followed by further certification by the consular offices of the state to which the document will be used. The Convention replaces this with the requirement only that the Notary's act be certified by the High Court which is done by means of affixing an Apostille or an Allonge to the document which is simply a certificate in a prescribed form. This certificate, which is attached to the document, is dated, numbered and registered. A map of countries which have signed up to the Convention (shaded blue) can be seen by following this link.