What types of Documents can be Notarised?

Posted: 22nd June 2014

As useful as it may be, there is no rule or provision in this country that neatly sets out what types of documents a notary can or cannot certify. The one fundamental principle, however, is that there must be some form of document that is intended to have legal effect and which will be relied upon by another party. For example, a power of attorney is a document frequently encountered and certified by notaries. A work of art, on the other hand, would not fit this description. Against the backdrop of this general position a London Notary Public will assess whether there is any fraud, violence or other illegality involved, such as money laundering or tax evasion. If any of these points come to light the particular notary may decline to act and, if applicable, contact the police or file a disclosure with the UK’s National Crime Agency etc.

Those documents which may be notarised can be divided into two broad groups. The first group concerns those documents where a Public Notary in London witnesses a signature taking place. This could range from a private client granting a deed of gift (where the notary will certify the signature, identity and capacity of the person making the gift as well as the binding nature of the act) to a company trade mark assignment (where the London Notary will attest the signature and identity of the appearing party, the legal status of the company being represented, its capacity to enter into this type of document, the signatory’s authority to act and the valid execution of the document). The second group, by contrast, relates to documents which can be issued by notaries without the need for any party to sign in front of them. Examples of this include the provision of a certificate of law or the notarisation of a UK-registered company’s memorandum and articles of association following an inspection of the appropriate file at Companies House.

Whilst there is no exhaustive list of what documents can be notarised, the following are those which are frequently attested by notaries: statutory declarations and affidavits, powers of attorney, corporate minutes and resolutions, deeds of transfer of title, share purchase agreements, loan and finance agreements and certified copies.

Notaries in London have a wealth of expertise when it comes to what documents can be certified and what procedure must be followed. It is frequently the case that notaries familiar with the subject-area will be able to provide advice on the nature and effect of a document, its drafting as well as its correct execution. Furthermore, a London Notary Public will usually be able to offer clients additional legalisation services. This means that these notaries will be able to assist not just with the certification of a specific document, but also its inter-country validation through the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (known as the “Apostille” procedure) and/or a particular Embassy or Consulate.

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