Is An Email A Document? Can It Be A Signed Document?


1 On the One Hand OF COURSE NOT, get a dictionary.

2 On the other hand, YES OF COURSE IT CAN why would you even ask?

What do words mean?

Always a problem for lawyers. As we know, “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

So in order to understand the meaning of words, do we have to use a dictionary? Or do we have to guess what the person using the word thought was its meaning?

Here is a link  -Click It -to a case in which Judges reminded themselves of just such a discussion in a case as long ago as 1803. The Freehold of a Pub in Limehouse London, served notice upon the innkeeper who was his tenant, stating that the lease of the premises was over and the Pub had to be vacated.

The Owner stated “I give you notice to quit the premises which you hold of me. . . commonly called . . . the Waterman’s Arms.”

OK but problem. – The presumably wealthy owner must have owned several public houses and got confused as to their names. What he had in mind was to end the tenancy of The Bricklayer’s Arms.

He send the notice to the tenant, at the Bricklayer’s Arms. But the Notice said, get out of the Waterman’s Arms.

The Judges said in 1803  – “By reference to the background, the notice was construed as referring to the Bricklayer’s Arms. The meaning was objectively clear to a reasonable recipient, even though the landlord had used the wrong name.”

So what’s this, used the wrong word? – OK, no problemmmo we can ignore that and pretend you didn’t.

Reginald Perrin, when he was approaching his breakdown, took this approach. He just used the word nearest to hand when the correct one escaped him. The word nearest to hand was usually parsnip. [Sometimes, two – fish slice].

OK so that’s the law, you can use the wrong words as long as we can all work out what you mean.

Yebbut and contrariwise, if the Owner has named the wrong pub, that didn’t matter, but if he had served the notice too late under the terms of the lease, that would matter. Because if a lease says six months, it doesn’t mean six weeks, does it.

“Months” not “weeks”, they’re different words. Oh look, see what I did there.

From the same 1997 case in which the 1803 case was discussed, Lord Hoffman said that ignoring the written terms of an agreement was quite different from using the wrong words. He said “If the clause had said that the notice had to be on blue paper, it would have been no good serving a notice on pink paper, however clear it might have been that the tenant wanted to terminate the lease”

OK so now we all understand, let’s move on.

Contract law:-.

If I say to you, “can I buy your car tomorrow for £2000.00” and you say “yes, come round at eight to pay me and drive it away”, we have a contract. We might even shake hands, doesn’t matter if we don’t.

But English law has always viewed contracts involving rights in Land as requiring more formality than contracts for cars and goods.

Here is the law for a land contract:-

Section 2 of the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989

It provides:

“(1) A contract for the sale or other disposition of an interest in land can only be made in writing and only by incorporating all of the terms which the parties have expressly agreed in one document or, where contracts are exchanged, in each.


(3) The documents incorporating the terms or, where contracts are exchanged, one of the documents incorporating them (but not necessarily the same one) must be signed by or on behalf of each party to the contract.




The law was created in 1989. I was using Lotus Notes in 1989. It enabled me to send emails to a limited number of people in a group all using the same program. The idea that the formalities of a contract for the sale of land as stated above could be met by the transmission of emails would not have held much sway in 1989 I suggest.

So using the Humpty Dumpty definition, should we discover what the words mean by looking to see what was in the minds of the legislators in 1989? If so I’m thinking – written or typed paper, with signatures in ink. Certainly that what I was taught in seminars in 1989.

So how did the Courts decide in This case link here -Click it- when asked whether an email could be a written document and whether it could include a signature?

Simples, YES.

An email will pass the test of being “in writing” and being “signed” if the “signer” includes in it “their name details with the intention of designating the party to be charged, and for the purpose of making a contract which should be binding”.

So there we are, it has been settled law from as long ago as 2006 that a string of emails which are never actually printed out, can be both in writing and signed.

Even though parliament did not say this, and are presumed not to have used the wrong words in the parsnip sense, nor envisaged this result as even a possibility.

So sometimes, it’s not the words  that mean whatever Humpty says he wants them to, – it’s the Law being whatever the Judges decide that acceptable commercial practice requires the Law to be, never mind either the words or the meaning of the relevant statute.

Anyway surely 2006 was long enough ago for the message to get through to everyone, that if you don’t want your email to be capable of being a binding contract in England or Wales  , just add the phrase “Subject to Contract”. I mean, you can set it automatically.

Though it may seem a bit odd to your non-lawyer friends if you do, when you email them to say, “See you in the Pub at 6.00 pm – subject to contract.”

Why am I telling you all this? A friend has sent me an email with this link . -Click It- A case where the sending Solicitor intended apparently that his email should not be binding upon his client – but Oh Dear – it was.  The full case is here This Link -click it- and it graphically confirms that emails are definitely well worth the paper they’re not written on.

And in spite of what some email services might tell you, once an email has been sent, it’s not retrievable.

And here’s a thought – The Royal Mail is still open for business. -Please Mr Postman- Click here

As ever, if you require our services or if you have any queries on any of the services that we offer then please so not hesitate to email us  and

Or alternatively please telephone on 0113 8160116 or 07715608747.  Please also visit our website



Make a Will – Or – Fighting With The Family (not the film)

A month or so ago I wrote, as I often do, that everyone should make a Will.

I presume, if you have not made your Will by now, that you did not read the Blog – so here it is –

If you did read it, no doubt you have made a Will. Good. I do not think that there has ever been a case where the distribution of a person’s Estate (their belongings after death) has been rendered more complicated by the fact that they left a properly thought-out and properly worded Will.

Whereas of course, the law reports over the centuries provide hundreds of examples of the confusion and stress and bizarre consequences that can be the result of failing to do so.

Which is not to say that I advise you to get out your pen now and write your will on your own without good legal advice. Obviously a stupid will is stupid. I wrote about that too! Link here

Anyway the case I wrote about in June has now reached a Court decision. This is a very tragic case and a stark if extreme illustration that failure to make Wills can drive families apart.

Mr Scarle and Mss Scarle owned their house and money together. The legal term is “as joint tenants”. A feature of a joint tenancy is that the first joint owner to die is presumed by a “legal fiction” to have given (do the children say “gifted” these days? Why?) their share in the joint property to the other joint owner/s at the moment of death.

So if Mr Scarle died first, then Mrs Scarle owned everything previously owned by both of them, and if not, not. Contrariwise, if Mrs Scarle died first, then Mr Scarle owned everything previously owned by both of them, and if not, not.

Most unusually, the Scarles died in circumstances in which the order of death was not obvious.

There was no incontrovertible evidence. There had, for example, been no 999 call for the ambulance saying “My husband/wife has collapsed and died”. No CCTV indoors, no internet-linked Alexa or other devices listening to everything.

They were found, both dead, in their bungalow. Mrs Scarle was younger but had been frailer. Mr Scarle was ten years older but had been his wife’s carer, although evidence suggests that he was seriously declining in health just before his death.

An unusual state of affairs. Unusually these days that is. In wartime, not unusual when bombs were falling and whole families killed in an instant.

A serious problem in this case was, each of the Scarles had children of earlier marriages. So if Mr Scarle died first, the estate passed to his widow as surviving joint tenant, then to her child or children; but if Mrs Scarle had died first then it would be her husband’s issue who would inherit.

There had been cases before in English law when this set of circumstances had arisen.

Ironically a century and a half ago, the case of Mr Wing was a case where Wills had actually been made.

Mr and Mrs Underwood had made wills, leaving everything to each other if they should die before the other. But if they should be second to die then in their Wills they each left everything to Mr Wing.

They died in a shipwreck in the 1850s; it was not possible to say who drowned first.

In order to get his money from Mr Underwood’s estate, Mr Wing had to prove that Mrs Underwood had died first. And/or in order to get his money from the estate of Mrs Underwood, he had to prove that Mr Underwood died first.

So because he could not prove who died first, though one of them must have, and both of them had left him all the money if they died second, Mr Wing got nothing.

Was the law an ass? It was precise to the point of pedantry, I’ll give it that. A Notary loves a pedant.

At any rate it took 75 years for the law to change. In 1925 the following paragraph was enacted, s184 of the Law of Property Act

184 Presumption of survivorship in regard to claims to property.

In all cases where, after the commencement of this Act, two or more persons have died in circumstances rendering it uncertain which of them survived the other or others, such deaths shall (subject to any order of the court), for all purposes affecting the title to property, be presumed to have occurred in order of seniority, and accordingly the younger shall be deemed to have survived the elder.

So now the present law provides the solution to the conundrum which flummoxed the claim of Mr Wing in 1855. If it is uncertain who died first then the law will tell you that the older person died first.

So Scarles’ case, Mr Scarle is 79 years and has died and Ms Scarle is 69 years and been found dead with her husband. Death had clearly taken place days before they were discovered. The manner of their last moments showed distressing turmoil, it may be that Mr Scale had collapsed and his wife had fallen in her rush to go to his aid. Or vice versa that Mrs Scarle had collapsed and Mr S. had collapsed in shock. Then the unfortunate couple could not move and in due course both froze to death

When found, both bodies were decomposing. There were different stages of decomposition reached but medical experts did not feel able to reach certain agreement based upon that, or based upon the effect of the different temperatures of the different rooms in which their bodies were found, as to the crucial question, who died first?

To my simple mind, it seems that in a case where doctors cannot agree with each other, (and in this case whilst the doctors called as expert witnesses reached different conclusions as to who may possibly have died first nevertheless each of them said that they could not be certain beyond reasonable doubt), then the condition of section 184 above is met. “Circumstances render it uncertain …..”

The value of the main asset, the bungalow, is reported in the papers to be around £250,000.00; the whole estate perhaps £300,000.00

The full report of the Court hearing is – HERE -.

Is it just me who finds that the whole esoteric exercise of arguing and discussing what is the “standard of proof” that something is uncertain which must be met by the parties is a bit of a waste of time? The daughter of Mr Scarle, in order to win the claim, had to show that s184 did not apply. To do this means she has to show that the circumstances of the deaths do not “render it uncertain” as to which spouse survived the other.

But how can you disprove that a state of affairs is uncertain? Presumably, by proving that Mr Scarle died second. But there was no witness who found it possible to say so with certainty. So if that is not a definition of being uncertain then I ask, what might be? And that was her own expert witness.

And whilst it is all very well and good as an abstract discussion of the law to suggest that Mr Scarle might have died second, and for the court to discuss in the abstract whether such a hypothesis, in order to succeed, would need to be “probably” correct – which is the “civil standard of proof”, or “correct so that we are sure” – which is the “criminal standard of proof” or something more or something in between – still it seems to me an exercise in hugely expensive futility.

Here we have two doctors saying they cannot be sure who died first. And if they both say that, then whether one of them tends towards a feeling that A died first, whilst the other thinks that perhaps the more likely is that B did, what they are both saying is that they are not certain.

And of course if there is no certainty, then s184 says that Mrs Scarle died first. Which is where we started.

So how this got all the way to Court appears to me to be an encapsulation of all that is wrong with not making a will. Because children do not want to miss out on £300,000.00, and they will fight lost causes, and fight each other even at the risk of spending all the money on lawyers. And then never speak to each other again.

Oh you say – our family is not like that.

Time for a song Link here  – Siblings song –

Remember, if you have any queries on any of the services that we offer then please so not hesitate to email us  and

Or alternatively please telephone on 0113 8160116 or 07715608747.  Please also feel free to visit our website


All Indian Powers of Attorney Are DIFFERENT – Discuss!

Powers of Attorney for India – What is the Law – Who is right?
Louise Scratches her Head and Ponders

We at AtkinsonNotary see many clients who need us to notarise a Power of Attorney (“POA”) for use in India. This is excellent and we are of course very happy to assist.

We must have in our records thousands of Powers of Attorneys, which have been successfully used in India since Chris Atkinson first became a Notary in 1993. The thing about them is, very few of them are the same!

We have dealt with thousands of POA documents for use in India and there simply is no consistent guidance as to how these documents should be completed and notarised.

For example below are some points on what we get asked to do- all instructions received from India:-

BUT – they are all different!

Which is correct? You tell me!:

1. Notarise the document with no further witnesses.
2. Notarise the document with two further witnesses in addition to the Notary.
3. Add a photograph of the Grantor.
4. Do not add a photograph of the Grantor
5. Add a copy passport of the Grantor.
6. Do not add copy passport of the Grantor
7. Add copy passports of the witnesses.
8. There is no need for the witnesses to provide identification.
9. Add a photograph of the Attorney. NB the Attorney is usually in India and the Grantor may not have a photograph.
10. Once the POA has been executed and notarised the Grantor is now to take it to the Indian High Commission for its stamp.
11. Once the POA has been executed and notarised it has to be sent to the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office for an Apostille stamp.
12. Once the POA has been executed and notarised then it is good and needs no further stamps can be sent directly back to India.
13. The POA should be signed by the Notary on the left-hand side of the document.
14. The POA should be signed by the Notary on the right hand side of the document.
15. The POA needs to be signed on every page
16. The POA does not need to be signed on every page
17. The POA has to be printed on special size paper
18. The POA has to be printed on special size paper coloured green
19. The POA has to be printed on special size paper which has been stamp duty paid in India
20. The POA may be printed on our usual A4 sized white paper.

And 21 and 22 and on and on and on….

As you can see, so many conflicting ways of proceeding and getting it wrong. Well, not wrong, but it seems that in India being right is not as important as preparing the document in the way the local Lawyer expects to see it. So what to do?

Well in relation to signing the document, our advice is that you should follow the guidance from your adviser in India whether they are right or wrong.

India is a large country and depending on which part of India you wish to deal with then the Lawyers in that area will have their own idea as to how the document should be executed.

The correct procedure however, as a matter of Law, is that India has in fact signed the Hague Convention and therefore documents signed in England for use in India are to be signed before a Notary and two independent witnesses. Once notarised and witnessed the POA then needs to be sent to the Foreign Office for an Apostille stamp (what is an Apostille stamp? – see – link here – to a previous blog and read under the heading “Legalise/Further Legalise/Authenticate”).

The fact that our clients get asked to obtain a stamp from the Indian High Commission once the POA has been notarised is wrong and is outdated – but you try and tell them in India this, you probably will not get very far in trying to change their mind. Unfortunately there are many Lawyers in India who do insist on the High Commission Stamp being obtained!

Chris has a fantasy that some Indian lawyers were taught their practice and procedures by their fathers, years ago, and are not interested in minor trivialities such as subsequent changes in the law.

In conclusion we don’t believe there is one correct way for dealing with POAs for India – and there are so many ways to get it wrong, by which I mean, to get it rejected whether or not it’s wrong.

Our advice is, be pragmatic. Take guidance from your own Lawyer/adviser in India as to the way in which your Power of Attorney should be dealt with in that particular area. Get them to draft the document and email or post it to England.

Basically, don’t bang your head on the wall in the cause of “doing it right” if doing it some other way is what will work.

Remember, if you need to discuss a Power of Attorney for use in India, or if you have any queries on any of the services that we offer then please so not hesitate to email us and
Or alternatively please telephone on 0113 8160116 or 07715608747. Please also feel free to visit our website

GDPR – One Year On. The News? Who’s asking, It Might Be Protected Information?

GDPR – One Year On. The News? Who’s asking, It Might Be Protected Information?

“Do you know of a General Data Protection expert who could advise me and my business about it all?
“Yes, I certainly do.
“Oh thanks, so tell me, who can help me then?
“No, I can’t tell you who it is, that’s protected data.”

I trust that old chestnut has you rocking with laughter. (Lawyers’ jokes are not for everyone perhaps.)

I’m strictly a bit late for the “one year on” blog cliché. Still it’s only July 2019 and the implementation date of GDPR was 25th May 2018. So, what’s been occurring?

The first effect for many companies was a worried revision of their own processes and systems. Many of them were hampered by a less than clear understanding of what the new Data Protection Regulation actually said. Or Meant.

OK? What does it say? – Here it is for you to read – Link –

I guess you probably are not going to do that, now that you can see the length of the Regulation. If you have read it, you will see that the above is the European overreaching regulation. It includes a requirement that the member States must their own rules of implementation.

In the case of UK, this is the Data Protection Act 2018 – Link Here –

So let me guess, you’re not going to read all of that either.

It does turn out to be a bit of a problem, that by and large the Laws of this Country and most others are just too damn long. How can we all obey what we can’t be bothered to read and wouldn’t clearly understand if we tried?

Take email marketing. It is not made illegal by the GDPR. But if it is done, it must be done in accordance with GDPR. So, again, how can we know what to do if the wording is impenetrable?

Many companies, including the well-known Wetherspoon pub restaurant chain, simply decided they couldn’t be bothered with the whole game of soldiers and deleted their entire customer marketing database.

Others meet the problem by deciding that if some of the data they hold is subject to the Regulation, then they will be OK if they never share any of their data with anyone. Not the most helpful thing in my line of work. I am often instructed to assist a student seeking to work abroad, by checking then notarizing that their University Degree is genuine. If the degree was from a USA University, I have just phoned up and asked the question and the receptionist has checked the computer and told me the answer.

In England, not so easy! “GDPR, innit.”

So it’s a year on from the implementation of that Regulation you’ve heard about.
The English enforcer for the Regulation seems to be the Information Commissioner’s Office and its website is showing a list of the enforcement actions it has taken.

Here is – the link-

I don’t know about you but there seems something oxymoronic about the information revealed above.

It enables you and me to browse through it without any business reason to do so, perhaps whilst bored at work, to learn of the misdemeanours of others.

Yebbut, one of the things we can read about, is the prosecution of a person Wendy who browsed through her employers’ database “without any business reason to do so” and read records of anti-social activities of others.

It doesn’t say why she did it, chances are that she was bored at work and passed the time reading about the misdemeanours of others? Fined £300.00.

Anyway, the page lists various examples of behaviour which will get you in trouble if you do it. Many are the sort of thing you would expect to get people into trouble. A schoolteacher moving pupil data to his home computer. A medical centre worker accessing details of patient health records. An employee copying the employer’s computerised customer list – perhaps in contemplation of setting up in competition and canvassing those customers.

Of course the majority of breaches are more what you might expect on a larger scale – unsolicited PPI phone calls, unconsented releases of customer data to third parties some of them involving many million individual people.

And the page does also give a highlight to the fact that enforcement notices but not fines have been served against the Met police, and HM Revenue and Customs.

It seems that the use of computers to assist the Met in coping with gang crime in London goes beyond what is reasonable.

Your view? – On the one hand, gangs very bad, catch and prosecute gangs very good.

On the other, how many of us support blanket facial recognition and CCTV everywhere as China seems to be pursuing – too much computerisation very bad?

With HM Revenue & Customs the breach was a lack of clarity in obtaining “consent” to the implementation of voice recognition software on the helplines.

Neither the Met nor HMR&C have been prosecuted or fined.

Again, it seems me counterproductive anyway to fine the Police, who don’t generate any money, or the HMR&C who do generate it or at least collect it, but spend it on Hospitals and Benefits and all of the Public Infrastructure that is so hard up.

But what would or should the Information Commissioner do, if ever there is a breach by HMR&C which in their opinion is so blatant as to deserve a swingeing fine?

The rules allow imposition of a fine of 4 per cent of global turnover. I don’t know whether the Revenue has any turnover at all. If it does, presumably, that’s the amount it collects. Which in year ended 2018 was over £605,000,000,000.00.

Although even if there were a fine of £24 billion, where do fines go? Into the general tax fund. Not much point as an exercise, fining the Taxman. As you were then, carry on.

None of the above relates to hackers. But as recent cases show, the activities of hackers have resulted in breaches of GDPR which have far outweighed the seriousness of breaches caused by bored employees, or by ill thought-out systems.

Two cases tower above the rest – those of Wm Morrison Supermarkets, and just yesterday, British Airways.

In the first case, a malicious employee with a grudge against the supermarket released protected information about 5,518 workers there. Morrisons have been found by the ICO not to be in breach of its protection compliance obligations. They had done all they could pretty much, apart from requiring every computer operator to work in tandem with another in order to keep each other honest. The problem there was not in inherently weak computer system vulnerable to hackers outside the building. Even so they are still fighting to avoid having to pay damages.

In the second, -Link Here – British Airways is alleged by the ICO to have failed to maintain the level of computer security required of it by the GDPR.

What is their fine? Over £183,000,000.00.

ICO can point to the fact that the maximum penalty could have been in the region of £488,000,000.00. Still a little salty though.

The hope is that an unbelievably huge fine like this will start a rush to improve systems across industry as a whole to the immense benefit of the consumer. Or…..The cynical may simply view this as the first of many such monster fines, each providing a boost to the Government’s Consolidated Fund at huge cost to the long term viability and competitiveness of British industry.

My own unofficial poll indicates that the average citizen of Leeds is a firm believer in GDPR, strongly determined to keep their personal data a secret to themselves.

Why else do they never indicate their intention at roundabouts?

Here’s a song –Link Here-

Remember, if you require our services or if you have any queries on any of the services that we offer then please so not hesitate to email us and

Or alternatively please telephone on 0113 8160116 or 07715608747. Please also feel free to visit our website

Bang the Drum. Make A Will. Number Umpteen.

Bang the Drum. Make A Will. Number Umpteen.

There are one or two drums that I have banging from time to time in my Blogs. It may be that my readers have taken on board all that I have been saying about – Consents for your Children to travel abroad without you, or The Need to get your prescriptions notarised if you are taking your medication with you on holiday, particularly to Russia, – or How to ensure that deeds and papers are properly expected by companies so that the Company is bound and the Director is free from personal liability, and so on.

And quite often I try to encourage you to MAKE A WILL.

Even so, I bet that every one of you has either not made your own Will or else knows a friend who has not.

Apart from one person I know who appears seriously to believe that he is being kept alive only by the magic of not having made his Will, everyone else I speak to does acknowledge the importance of having made a Will. Being “testate”. At least, in principle they do.

But it seems that being fully aware of the importance of something is for many of us not the same as actually doing it.

So if you haven’t – do it today.

If your friends haven’t, urge them to do it today. Not to wait until they feel a bit poorly. I think the idea of – yes I know its’s important but I’ll do it later, – is as inexplicable as the reasoning of  the US motorbike riders who carry a crash helmet on the back rest, not on the head. Do they think – if anything dangerous starts to happen, I’ll put the hat on?

The main problem with making a Will perhaps other than a failure to prioritise, is that sometimes it can be quite difficult to decide what to write. Not the technical writing, I trust you will use a Solicitor for that (see earlier blogs about homemade Wills, there is one – link here –), but actually deciding upon your wishes.

For single persons, or couples in a first relationship whether married or not, matters may be straightforward. But increasingly nowadays, people may be in a second or later marriage, and each party may have children to earlier partners.

And that causes problems. Years ago when I was newly qualified I sat in on a meeting between a solicitor partner and his married clients who were in their sixties and each had children by deceased former spouses. Their first marriages had lasted for decades, the present marriage was very recent.

Each of the clients was very concerned that if they died first, the surviving second spouse should not be in control of all of the money which they presently owned separately. Neither of them wanted to say so out loud. It is embarrassing to say in effect “I don’t trust you”.

But each of them had children, and they clearly wanted to ensure that the matrimonial pot did not end up in the hands of the other spouse’s children to the exclusion of their own, after the death of the second of them to go.

And they both knew from their own experience that – if I die tomorrow my second spouse might marry again. And his/her new spouse might already have kids too. And they might live together another 20 years – people live a long time these days. And my kids might be forgotten by then.

Perhaps not so much of a problem if they had millions to dispose of. But if they had a house and a hundred thousand or so, it’s a poser. Because no one knows how long they will live. Will my spouse need all of the money? –  Answer – Yes s/he will if s/he lives to be a hundred. So we need to leave our money to each other. But what if I die next week and then s/he makes a new Will and cuts out my kids?

Making a Will makes you address this sort of questions, and the fears behind them, and it nearly caused that couple to split up, right there in the office.

Very difficult, and one can see why so many people, even if they do address the question, end up by deciding –  it’s just too difficult let’s pretend we are going to live for ever.

So here is a search you can google – Link Here – it will show you a choice of several newspaper articles and commentaries.

In this case, on purpose or not, Mr and Mrs Scarle had not made Wills. Each had been married before and each had living adult children. Exactly the circumstances in which it can be difficult to decide how to write a fair Will which looks after each other and also shares any money left over after the second death between all of their children and step children.

Tragically the unfortunate Mr and Mrs Scarle were found in their house, both dead. Apparently they froze to death; at any rate the deaths were natural. But they were not discovered until they had been dead for a week or so and in circumstances in which medical experts appear unable to say who died first.

If you haven’t a Will, it is important to know when you died.

Say Mr Scarle died first. OK, his estate if he had less than £250,000.00 (bit more complex if he had more) will pass to his widow. She has afterwards died too, so all of that money plus all of her own money will pass to her surviving children

And contrariwise, say Mrs Scarle died first. OK, her estate if she had less than £250,000.00 (bit more complex if she had more) will pass to her widower. He has afterwards died too, so all of that money plus all of his own money will pass to his surviving children.

Long story short, the children of whoever died first get nowt.

In the very unusual case of not actually knowing who first died, the Law reverts to a “legal fiction”. Called the “Commorientes Rule”, it says, generally speaking and according to the laws of nature, older people have fewer years of life in front of them than have younger people. Old people reach old age and death first, then it is the turn of younger people.

So if someone is 79 (Mr Scarle was 79) and is found dead with someone aged 69 (Mrs Scarle was 69), the legal fiction says that Mr Scarle shall be presumed to have died first

The trouble, or one of all of the troubles, in all of this is that whatever Mr and Mrs Scarle  “would have wanted” for their children if they had made wills, and for whatever reason they neglected, or decided not, to do so, they certainly could not have guessed their cruel fate.

If they had left a will, each to each other, they could at least have hoped that the survivor would have “seen their children right”.

In the absence of Wills, not only shall one set of children definitely not inherit, but a jolly big chunk of their joint money will be spent on Courts solicitors barristers and the whole legal folderol.

I started by saying I’ve said all this before – but I think it’s worth repeating.

Make a Will. Now, preferably.

Here’s a link to a soothing song – I’ve said it once before but it bears repeating, Now –

Remember, if you require our services or if you have any queries on any of the services that we offer then please so not hesitate to email us  and

Or alternatively please telephone on 0113 8160116 or 07715608747.  Please also feel free to visit our website

Notary Advice. Worth the Fee?

Question :- It is the job of Notaries to make the preparation and execution of documents for use abroad, as easy as possible. True or false?

Well, true I suppose but sometimes it is the “as possible” bit which needs to be emphasized. Sometimes stuff just is complicated.

Take Limited Companies. Who can be a Director?

At present s. 155 of the Companies Act 2006 says that at least one of the directors of a Company must be a “natural” person. (A natural person is a human being, a corporation is a legal person but not a human being so not a natural person.)

Yebbut, the Government has created the “Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015” which is not yet the law, but presumably will be one day.

S87 of the 2015 legislation says that “The Companies Act 2006 s. 155 shall be omitted and the following added
“156A Each director to be a natural person
“(1)A person may not be appointed a director of a company unless the person is a natural person.”

So it is clear that the days of Corporate Company Directors are numbered. But today they are fine.

My point is, there is no “common sense” here. You cannot guess what is OK and what is not with Company Law, you have to read the law – and the law can change anytime. What is right today is wrong tomorrow.

Also and perhaps especially in the case of Company Documents there are rules which need to be followed, and you won’t be able to guess what they are. Or if you can once then you are lucky, but you won’t be lucky three times in a row if you are guessing.

It is rare for a successful business Director to be too interested in the detailed requirements of the thousands of rules and regulations which govern the activities of their Companies: no doubt it can be the bane of their lives to be told by their Notary that a document cannot be executed by Fred because Fred is not an authorised signatory.

But if Fred is in charge of supervising the Dubai office, they say, who else should sign a Power of Attorney to assist in the Dubai operation? No. Fred may have a job description as “Middle Eastern Affairs Director” or some such. And the young school leaver may call himself the “Director of Paperclip Procurement”. But these are just job titles. And only Officers of the Company, as defined in the 2006 Act, are authorised signatories.

So the Notary will have to tell that successful business Director [the sbD] that because Fred is not actually a Company Board Director, therefore he must not sign the Deed, because it will expose him to personal liability and will not bind the Limited Company to its terms anyway.

And egos come into this. Sometimes sbDs may consider that their godlike status within the organisation is being challenged rather than enhanced, when being told that Plan A is unworkable.

A fellow Notary has written to say that he recently “had the European Head of a global enterprise email me to ask me what I was going on about when I had suggested to the UK people that they were proposing to execute a Power of Attorney incorrectly.”

He felt as if he was being invited onto the naughty step.

“What are you going on about?”, – bit alarming?

Not quite the same as, “Thank you very much, I nearly made an expensive blunder, you have saved my expensive bacon”.

Here is a case link – click here – to the Katana case.

Basically, a contract was entered into which included an agreement that any dispute arising would be dealt with by English Law.

Trouble was, it eventually was discovered that none of the parties or their advisors actually knew any English Law.

One of the companies involved purported to sign the contract by using as its signatory a person who had been appointed an Attorney of it, under what everyone believed to be a Deed of Power of Attorney. The Power of Attorney however was not a Deed. It was not properly witnessed as a Deed.

No English Notary was involved.

Because the “Deed” was defective, the Claimant’s case was dismissed.

If an English Notary had been consulted, it might have taken half an hour of reading the papers to see that the Deed was defective. I charge £120.00 plus vat for half an hour.
The Claimants dismissed claim was for €65 million

Perhaps I don’t charge enough? HMmm. Only me then?

At any rate, I promise to charge less than €65 million, so Remember, if you require our services or if you have any queries on any of the services that we offer then please so not hesitate to email us and
Or alternatively please telephone on 0113 8160116 or 07715608747. Please also feel free to visit our website

Travels to Russia? – Prescription Medication? – then this is a must read…

Travels to Russia? – Prescription Medication? – then this is a must read…

Louise writes:-

We have blogged in the past about taking medicines into Russia.  Our latest blog was back in July 2016 (link here) and we thought it prudent to remind our readers of the need to see a Notary if you are wishing to travel to Russia, whether on holiday or business, and are currently needing to take medication(s) which you need to take with you for that trip.

No doubt people might plan a holiday in Russia well in advance, in terms of tickets and hotels, car hire, guide books for sightseeing and the like. Perhaps though, the idea of seeking the online advice of the Foreign Office, or of the Russian consulate website does not occur to them as readily.

And if you are taking regular painkillers or other potent medicines for a chronic condition it may not occur to you that if you open your luggage and declare them at the border they may be confiscated, and if you don’t and they are found later you may be in serious trouble perhaps facing imprisonment.

And imprisonment without the drugs might be life threatening, and confiscation of the drugs at the border will mean you have to go straight back home if your health depends upon your pills.

In fact the ONLY way to be allowed to enter Russia with any of the medications which feature on the list on the Russian consulate website, is what it says on that website. Which is – “If you are travelling to Russia with one of those medicines from the list you must have a prescription or a doctor’s letter with a NOTARISED translation from English into Russian. The document should give the name of the patient, prescribed medicine and its quantity.

Please also note, for Russia, documents notarised in England must also be stamped with the Foreign Office Apostille.

Which means that this cannot be done in five minutes, or even a week. You have to

  1. put me in touch with your doctor, so I can check the prescription is genuine,
  2. obtain a translation of your prescription and/or a letter from the doctor, into Russian
  3. get my notarisation in English and Russian that the prescription is genuine and the translation is genuine
  4. get the FCO Apostille.

So it is always somewhat shocking to us how many times we are contacted very late in the day, as a kind of afterthought, – we have twice recently been contacted by people in this situation who have left it very late and once by people who have had to cancel their holiday plans entirely all because they started the exercise too late.

We at AtkinsonNotary can assist you in avoiding the above scenarios.  We offer a complete comprehensive package to verify, notarise, translate and legalise your prescriptions – all it would entail is a short meeting at our office for you to bring your medicine prescriptions which you require to be dealt with and simply leave the rest to us, giving you extra time to get ready for your trip and peace of mind that your medicines will not be taken from you.  We are fully aware of the requirements of Russia and we can proceed swiftly.

If you take a look at the Russian Embassy website Link here – they set out in detail their requirements for entry into the country with specific medications.

Don’t leave it to chance and risk your trip being denied or your medications being confiscated giving you no option but to return home because you need to take life-saving medication –come and see us, let us prepare the necessary paperwork leaving you to enjoy a stress free trip.

Remember, if you require our services or if you have any queries on any of the services that we offer then please do not hesitate to email us  and

Or alternatively please telephone on 0113 8160116 or 07715608747.  Please also feel free to visit our website