Brexit – New Freedoms / New Dangers / Off-Road Diversions.

Brexit – New Freedoms / New Dangers / Off-Road Diversions.

No-one likes being told they have to spend more on Vehicle Insurance. So in 2017 or so there was a general Boo-Hooing particularly among those keen on leaving the EU, about the case of Mr. Vnuk in Slovenia.

Mr. V was working in a farmyard up a ladder, or at least he was until he was knocked off it. He was knocked off his ladder by a colleague who was reversing a tractor and trailer and who presumably either misjudged the turn or didn’t see the ladder. In any event there is no suggestion this was a deliberate assault.

Now the tractor was insured so Mr. Vnuk issued proceedings for damages against the insurance company.

And he lost.

The Insurers successfully told the Court – We insure the tractor on the public road when it is used on the public road for example moving from one field to another. But not when it is pottering around a private farmyard – off the public road.

And fair’s fair, That is indeed what the insurance policy said.

But on the other hand Slovenia is within the EU where Article 3(1) of the First Directive on Motor Insurance (72/166/EEC).says that the owner of any vehicle has to insure it when it is “in use”.

So next, the Slovenian judge sent the case off to the Court of Justice of the European Union, to find out whether the actual insurance policy was legal.

And the CJEU said no, insurance companies must not seek to evade the European law. If you own a vehicle you must buy insurance and the insurance must cover the “use” of the vehicle. Use for every purpose and in every place.

So because UK was in the EU, it has therefore followed that ruling and at present all vehicles require compulsory third party insurance for all use including upon private land.

Bad news for drivers. Because insurance premiums went up.  And drivers were a bit miffed. “I never drive off-road, so why should I be forced to get this cover?” “Do I need cover for my mobility scooter in case I run over some-one’s foot in the supermarket?” “Or cover for my ride-on lawnmower, with its vorpal blades which snicker-snack?”

And even more, what about grass roots motor sport?

Typically, a local farmer allows the use of his fields and woods for Trials Bike competition. A traditional Yorkshire field event but inherently dangerous. The fears were that no-one could afford the additional insurance premiums and the sport would wither.

It does seems a reasonable stance, to view all this as just more Bad News from the EU.

Roll on Brexit eh?

But what’s this – this “Bad News”, was the only Good News for one recreational hiker Mr Lewis.

Because in 2013 Mr Lewis had been walking across private fields when the Farmer, Tindale, driving his uninsured 4×4, chased him and eventually collided with him. Which nearly killed him. Certainly it was not Tindale’s fault that he didn’t kill him, whether or not the actual collision was intended.

He certainly did ruin Mr Lewis’s life. With an injured spinal cord he is now tetraplegic and suffers irreversible brain damage.

So the issue then for Mr Lewis’s family and carers was to find compensation adequate to provide round-the-clock care and some quality of life so far as possible. Tindale is a waste of time for that. Nowhere near enough money to fund all that.

The State has provided a safety net where folk are injured by vehicles which ought to have been insured. The Motor Insurers Bureau. And whilst the MIB tried to wriggle, the High Court has now spoken, – The MIB must provide Mr Lewis with compensation.

Here is the case report *Link Here*

The decision was appealed to the Supreme Court which said very quickly “Permission to appeal be refused because the application does not raise an arguable point of law. In relation to the point of European Law said to be raised by or in response to the application it is not necessary to request the Court of Justice to give any ruling the Court’s existing jurisprudence already provides a sufficient answer.”

But remember, the MIB are liable only where the vehicle “ought to have been insured”.

And now here we are in Brexit land. Which means that these pesky EU rulings can be left behind and once again the use of vehicles on private land need not be insured. Which, according to the Government representative Grant Shapps will mean that every British driver will pay £50.00 less for annual car insurance. 

And by the way, He didn’t mention Mr Lewis.

What will you spend your £50.00 on when your Insurance Company gives it back? Building a runway for your flying pigs? *Link Here*

Louise and I are back at work, so please do contact us whenever you need Notarial certification or Legalisation for your Documents– at http://www.atkinsonnotary.com – or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116)

Property in Spain. Life, History and Spanish Bureaucracy.

(c) freedigitalphotos by artzsamui

Property in Spain. Life, History and Spanish Bureaucracy. They are all just one thing after another.

In 2017 Dr. Liam Fox said that sorting things out for UK life after Brexit should be “one of the easiest things to achieve in human history”. And more presciently, that the only reason it might not be, would be if “politics got in the way of economics”.

I can’t list all the ways that politics has in fact done exactly that. But one of them is enough for a Blog, and others can be the subject of plenty more this year no doubt.

That one example is, buying in Spain.

It was always understood that post-Brexit there would be possible new Spanish visa or residency requirements, and new different tax levels for rental income, and perhaps different inheritance tax levels for EU citizens and for Brits.

But who expected that the Spanish Royal Decree 689 pf 1978 regulations of areas and facilities of National Defence would cause a whammy? –Link here – Here it is

Since 1975 there have been Spanish areas with restricted access by foreigners. No doubt that is the case in all countries, and we English know we are not going to get planning permission to build in the middle of Salisbury Plain. Nor would we want to, what with all the tanks and guns and soldiers.

But there aren’t any nice seaside houses in the MOD tank and war training areas of Salisbury Plain.

In Spain, the relevant areas include residential areas of the Costas and of Majorca and Minorca. It affects thousands of towns and cities. And I see now, Tenerife and the Canaries. –Link Here – to a Tenerife newspaper article. And until Brexit, EU citizens were exempt from requiring “Military Certification” before being allowed to purchase homes there.

Don’t ask me to explain why EU citizens can be relied upon not to be foreign spies, or why British citizens could last year but not this. Or what can be seen through the wires surrounding a military zone which cannot be viewed from home on the satellite images of Google Earth, It’s politics remember.

So what has happened this year is that a significant number of UK citizens are having their Spanish property purchases delayed (and therefore all of the transactions in a linked chain of sales and purchases are delayed too) until a Military certificate can be obtained.

And not only delay, typically six months or so, but also expense. Purchasers are having to obtain Police record certificates, as if they were applying to teach vulnerable children rather than buy a holiday home, and the Notarisation requirements are more onerous and expensive.

And it could get worse. Because most Spanish purchase contracts are made with a stated completion date. And if you sign your contract in ignorance that the land is with a “military defence zone” you may commit yourself to something which is impossible, but which has steep financial penalties for defaulting.

There are several losers in this, obviously, all of the individuals who are having to cope with all this and everyone else in any linked chain, but perhaps the overall loser is the Spanish State. It wants British property owners. It wants their money. And if it makes it all just too much hassle to buy Spanish, we may just buy Portuguese instead.

On the other hand, if nothing here has put you off, here are two songs for the price of one, the –Steve Bent- and –The Fall- versions of “I’m going to Spain” Let’s hope it turns out fine.

And do please remember :- Louise and I are back at work, ready for you to contact us whenever you need Notarial certification or Legalisation for your Documents– at http://www.atkinsonnotary.com – or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116)

Welcome to 2021. Thoughts on Freedoms under the Law.

Welcome to 2021. Thoughts on Freedoms under the Law. And the Blues.

On the day that President Biden is inaugurated and President Trump leaves office, I have been re-reading my Blog from the end of 2016. I didn’t understand what had just happened then, and I am none the wiser now (albeit four years or so better informed). Here it is *Link here*

So I will leave wiser heads than mine to comment about the USA and turn to consider what else has been going on.

I confess I am still pondering the concept of “propositions of Universal Acceptance” touched on in my November offering – *Link Here* – the view expressed by Judges that some actions or behaviours are so unarguably beyond the pale that there is absolutely no need for any Laws to make them illegal. **

I am not at all sure about that, it doesn’t seem very British does it? We Brits do tend to think that the basic rule is “it’s legal unless the Law bans it”.

(Not, as in other regimes:-

(Stereotypically:-

  • Germany – “you can’t do it unless the law says you can.”
  • Fascism – “Everything is compulsory unless we have banned it, and also everything is forbidden even if we do allow it.” Although at least that is clear, and less troubling than
  • the USA where the rule is “This is the Land of the Free – but good luck with that.”

(Perhaps the best attitude is the

  • French and Italian one – where “everything is allowed even it is forbidden”.

(And finally, I am told that in

  • Australia when something is against the law, everybody does it anyway just in order to find out why.)

Back to England. An inconsistency with the view that “anything which is universally accepted to be beyond the pale needs no laws to prohibit it” is to my mind found here *Link Here*

That’s right, it’s the Law against making Nuclear Explosions.

I quote:- “Any person who knowingly causes a nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for life.”  There we are, yes, there is an actual LAW.

So if you weren’t previously aware, please now put away all your enriched uranium and take up another hobby.

Of course, just because some acts which are universally accepted to be illegal do actually have laws against them, doesn’t mean that other non-universally accepted ones don’t.

Who of the liberty-loving free spirits amongst us has not been dissuaded from driving cattle through the streets of London between the hours of ten in the morning and seven in the evening only by our knowledge of the *Link Here* Metropolitan Streets Act of 1867?

And let’s not even consider the question of “handling fish in suspicious circumstances” – The Salmon Act of 1986 *Link Here*

OK, so this blog is not perhaps up there with the insight and profundity of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights *Link* but I offer it for you to please take from it what you can.

To be serious finally, freedom is a spiritual concept as least as much as a legal one and here is Champion Jack Dupree who survived a harsh orphaned childhood in poverty with no education yet he lived a free life if anyone did, notwithstanding two years spent as a Japanese prisoner of war (and ten years in Halifax West Yorkshire) – “All we want to do is live like people” *Link here*

And do please remember :- Louise and I are back at work, ready for you to contact us whenever you need Notarial certification or Legalisation for your Documents– at http://www.atkinsonnotary.com – or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116)

** Beyond the pale. A pale is the stake supporting fencing and thus providing a safe boundary within the pale. (Remember the awful fate of the lovers Polindor and Flostella in 1657 who “both dove-like roved forth beyond the pale to planted Myrtle-walk”?  Me neither, so thanks Google. Anyway P &F wandered off together beyond the pale where bad men later exercised “many a dire killing thrust”. So there it is.)

Did you know that we can notarise your documents for the USA? Louise explains

Did you know that we can notarise your documents for the USA? Louise explains

We do get asked on occasions whether we can notarise and deal with documents for the US – the simple answer is YES we can.*

There are many parts of the US which do not seem to know this. The landmass of the USA is of course huge and many citizens do not travel outside it. Accordingly many law firms and real estate agents have little if any experience of dealing with documents to be signed outside of the USA.

That is why we often see instances where the US advisor has told English residents that they can only execute Deeds if they travel back to the States or otherwise attend the US Embassy in London. Which they possibly think is no difficult thing, since they have seen the world atlas and know that England is very small; presumably all of us can just walk round to the London Embassy in half an hour or so!

This is partly true – yes you can attend the US embassy in London if you wish but of course London is not a two-minute drive away from us up here in the North and anyway you would need to arrange an appointment with the Embassy and arrange travel to get to London.

It can be a long wait to obtain an appointment; the US embassy has more pressing matters to deal for example dealing with US citizens who are currently in the UK who have lost their passports, or had an accident or got in trouble with the police etc..– they really don’t want to have to give time to see people who require to sign documents for a house sale or purchase, or transfer of ownership of a car or dealing with bank closure forms etc.. – this is not urgent business as far as they are concerned.

So you will find that your US Consular appointment may be issued for weeks or even longer hence, whilst your realtor in Florida or wherever has sent the papers at the last minute and wants them back this week!. Also the typical package of papers for sales in Florida particularly may need five or six notarial certifications. For each one, the US Consulate will charge $50.00. (And please note that AtkinsonNotary will charge based upon time taken and not charge for each document separately)

What our clients do not get told is that they have another option – yes either attend the US Embassy if you can obtain an appointment in good time and are able to travel to get to the Embassy OR, you can deal with the necessary documents before an English Notary Public. This is usually much more convenient, easy to arrange and you do not have to travel to London because the good news is we are here in Leeds and are able to assist (there are around 750 Notaries in England – but however please note that not all Notaries in England carry insurance to deal with documents for the US – but WE DO.)

And note that the USA Embassy itself recommends you do this, see this link and scroll to “Notarization Through The British System”

The USA as a Federation, and the United Kingdom, have both signed up to the Hague Convention which means that documents to the States to be signed in England can be executed before an English Notary Public (as long as that Notary carries the necessary insurance to deal with documentation for the US) and once notarised should then be sent to the British Foreign Office to obtain an “Apostille” stamp.

I have written on previous occasions about what an “Apostille” is (see link here for one of them, or go to our blog website and find the others by entering “Apostille” into the search field) but in short it is a stamp issued by the British to confirm that the document has been dealt with correctly by a fully qualified Notary and that his/her signature, stamp and seal are genuine. So that therefore what he/she says can be relied upon in the foreign jurisdiction – basically it is an insurance policy so the US can safely rely upon the document and if by any means a criminal should successfully obtain an Apostille onto a forged document then then any losses incurred in relation to relying on the document will be a burden upon the British State (i.e. of course, the Tax payer!)

Having said that there are many States in the US that do not actually request that an Apostille be obtained, they are quite content with the document(s) just being notarised.

To end – If you have documents which you require notarising and maybe Apostilling for use in USA then we can help, YOU DO NOT NEED TO GO THE USA EMBASSY IN LONDON IF YOU DON’T WANT TO. (And I suspect that the Embassy would be pleased if you didn’t!)

Song here, for Fall fans only perhaps *Leave the Capital*

Please do get in touch with us if you would like any further guidance in relation to documents for use in the USA. or for use around the world .


Contact me Louise Morley, or Chris Atkinson, at AtkinsonNotary Limited, E7 Joseph’s Well Leeds LS3 1AB, phone 0113 8160116 and email notary@atkinsonnotary.com or via the website http://www.atkinsonnotary.com

*the less simple answer, is that actually there are a very few US documents which cannot be notarised by an English notary and will need the Embassy. In the main, these relate to US TAX filings.

Human Sacrifice and Financial Support For Family Members. [Children Are Not Just For Christmas?]

Human Sacrifice and Financial Support For Family Members. [Children Are Not Just For Christmas?]

An interesting case in September this year. Sometimes the Court is asked to give its help in cases where the initial response of most of us might be – “that’s just ridiculous.”

As the Judge put it – This is a most unusual case. Indeed, so far as I am aware, and the very experienced counsel who appear before me do not dispute this, the case is unprecedented.

“Certainly, the researches of counsel have identified no decision directly in point. The applicant’s own description is that his applications are “novel.”

“I suspect that the initial reaction of most experienced family lawyers would be a robust disbelief that there is even arguable substance to any of it.”

Again, another judge is quoted as saying that sometimes – “the absence of authority only illustrates the tendency for propositions of universal acceptance to be difficult to support by reference to authority.”

He means that some things are not stated in the laws of the Country because, – why would anyone need to write down what is already obvious and right?.

Of course, a “proposition of universal acceptance” will vary from community to community, and over the years.

None of us in Yorkshire believe that in order to keep the Sun moving across the sky and preserve our very lives, it is necessary to feed Huitzilopochtli with blood and torn-out human hearts still beating. (Well – except perhaps in Sheffield – but I never go there).

And again, perhaps that’s why it rains here all the time.

The need for human sacrifice is no longer a “proposition of universal acceptance”. And yet, in Aztec society it was.

Wikipedia tells me that up to 1% of the population per year were killed for the sun god. And whilst this is all over now, it only stopped in 1512. The same century that William Shakespeare was born.

In geological terms, it’s practically yesterday. In 1487, over 80 thousand people were sacrificed.

Another proposition of “universal acceptance” for hundreds of years in Christian Countries was that two persons of the same sex could not marry.

Not because it was against the law specifically – There wasn’t a law against it in England. The 1949 Marriage Act [link here] had a whole list of persons whom a Man could not marry. For example, his Mother or Daughter. But the entire list had one characteristic – they were all female.

Which would seem to mean, that in 1950 in England a man could marry a man. Or perhaps even his own father?

But though there wasn’t a law against it, in a country where sex between males would result in social rejection and indeed imprisonment until the 1960s there hardly needed to be, it was just – universally accepted.

And yet what is “universally accepted” now? In the space of a few hundred years we have gone from believing universally that human sacrifice is clearly necessary, and that criminalisation of homosexuality is clearly necessary, to believing the exact opposite.

So sometimes when we live in the forest, we can’t see any trees.

What’s this case then?

It is the snappily named – for reasons of anonymity- FS v JS and RS [2020] EWFC 63.

In it, a 41 year-old man (called “F”) brought an application to the Courts for an order that his wealthy parents should be required to pay him money for his food accommodation and lifestyle.

His parents are both alive and live together happily. It seems that they have got fed up with their son, or at least with his lifestyle choices.

The evidence given is that F is a “vulnerable person”. He has mental health difficulties but not of the kind often referred to as “learning disabilities”. Indeed he is very bright. He is a qualified solicitor and has a master’s degree in Taxation and is now studying for Chartered Tax Advisor qualification.

It may be that he is perhaps preferring to live a life of learning and studying: – at any rate he is unemployed and has been for years. He lives in his parents’ London Flat whilst they live in Dubai. The parents pay for the utilities.

They seem to have got fed up with him in his “feathered nest” and they think he is old enough at 41 to stop living on their charity.

He says that his parents have been nurturing his dependency on them for the last 20 years or soso that they should not be allowed to throw him to the wolves of his own resources.

One can see that it must come as a shock, but most of us would perhaps say to him – in the words of Battery Sergeant Major Williams – “Oh Dear. BOO HOO. Never Mind”.

At any rate, in this society, here and now, the tenet “universally accepted” is that parents are allowed to require that their children fend for themselves. I can’t say exactly at what age, except that it is probably a good few years earlier than 41.

At first glance as “nonsensical” as the proposition that, there being no law against it, a Man might marry his Father, at second glance, well, maybe there is something here.

We are not told the nature of F’s vulnerability. There may be very good reasons, physical or mental, why he does not feel able to get a job. The court case didn’t get that far. The question stalled at whether an adult offspring can compel his parents to give him money.

The law is, NO, he can’t. His parents can both be rich as Croesus and he can be homeless on the street and it’s not their problem. And that is where we are today with our “universal acceptance”. And maybe in years to come we won’t think that way, I don’t know.

After all, even today if the parents were paying for his accommodation and support whilst he is studying, but were themselves divorcing, then the law recognises that divorce would impact on a child of the family even at age 41 and give that person rights in relation to maintenance claims. At least the right to be heard in court even if the attempt was turned down

So his argument to the Court was:- why should the fact that his parents are happily married impact to remove or nullify rights which the adult “child” would have if they were not?

Well, the Courts have considered, and they have rejected the claimed concept that parents are “locked in“ by law to maintaining their adult children, even if they have done so for several years. Or, as pleaded, specifically BECAUSE they have done so and thereby led him to believe that the support would never stop.

And if that decision was previously based upon only upon “universal assumption”, no longer.

As the Judge said – quoting the “grim humour” of another Judge in an early judgment in a similarly novel claim,

“It may be that there is no direct authority on this point; certainly none has been cited. If so, it is high time that there was such authority; and NOW THERE IS!”.

Here is the judgment [link here]

Of course, the reality is that nobody has won. By the time a family is fighting itself in the courts, it’s too late for winners.

And will we always think that parents need not maintain their vulnerable adult children? Give it five hundred years, we may think it’s as barbarous as those sacrifices.

A song about irreversible changes [Crossing the Rubicon Link]

As ever – our message to you is, for documents for use around the world do contact me or Louise Morley here at AtkinsonNotary E7 Joseph’s Well Leeds LS3 1AB, phone 0113 8160116 and email notary@atkinsonnotary.com or via the website http://www.atkinsonnotary.com

Authenticating Documents for Overseas. It’s what Notaries Do.

Authenticating Documents for Overseas. It’s what Notaries Do.



Louise explains:-
Many of our clients approach us seeking assistance in authenticating their documents in order that they can be relied upon and used overseas.

Here are some fairly random examples:

Greece – It is a requirement of Greece that all men between the age of 19 and 45 with Greek citizenship or those designated by Greek authorities as “being of Greek origin, ancestry or descent” — regardless of country of birth, current citizenship, passport or domicile — must serve mandatory military service of: 9 months regular duty in the army.

However what if you are currently studying abroad, say in sunny England? – well then you will need to produce to the Greek authorities proof of this – usually clients come to see us with a letter issued by the University confirming that the individual is a currently studying with them.

Our function is to verify that the letter issued by the University is genuine and thereafter warrant to the Greeks that it is authentic and the information upon it can be relied upon.

Another example;

To verify to a foreign jurisdiction that a company registered in England and Wales is active and of good standing. If you are a business in England and Wales and wish to trade abroad or carry out business overseas etc… then it will usually be a requirement that the foreign jurisdiction will need to know that the company registered in England and Wales is of good standing and possibly who the names Directors are of that company.

More often what is required is to produce a document issued by Companies House called a “Certificate of Good Standing”.

What the certificate confirms is the full company name, address, company number, Directors, company secretaries and of course whether it is of good standing (all filings presently up to date).

However the foreign jurisdiction will usually require that the certificate of good standing be notarised as well by a Notary to warrant that that is genuine and the information contained in it can be relied upon.

Europe – we often get asked to Apostille British Birth Certificates, Death Certificates or Marriage Certificates. Again this is to warrant the fact of a birth, death or marriage to another country. Such certificates are issued by the General Records Office where the event took place. The certificate will bear the signature of a Registrar – if you are required to produce such a document abroad then again we can obtain this for you if required, notarise it as genuine and obtain any further legalisation stamps which that country may require.

Personal Identity checks – again we can prepare certified notarised copies of identification documents to be submitted overseas. In relation to a passport we can prepare a notarised copy of it and confirm that it is a true copy and we can even add, (only if we meet you face to face of course), that the photograph is a true likeness. The same goes for Driving Licences and so on..

Our function as Notaries is that we can independently verify documents for use overseas, whether that be a personal document or a company document.

As Notaries we carry the necessary insurance to cover by third parties relying on certifications we give. Since authentication of such matters abroad is not within the remit of Solicitors, any Solicitor doing this would not carry such professional insurance.

This is the international process, this is why a Notary is required.

As Notaries we state facts and warrant information to the foreign jurisdiction. What we say will be accepted and relied upon abroad. A Notary is an international legal officer whose signature and seal is recognised in any country of the world.
Set out below are some of the documents, we have been asked to independently verify and notarise as genuine:

Degree/Diploma Certificates

Letters from Schools/Universities

Doctors Letters

Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificates, Death Certificates

Degree of Divorce Absolute

Criminal Record Checks

Corporate Agreements

ISO standard documents

Employment reference letters

Translations – (We can only deal with warranting translations if we obtain the translation ourselves.)

Identity checks

Tax Letters/Certificates of Residence

Company House documents

The list goes on…

Chris and I are back at work, so please do contact us whenever you need Notarial certification or Legalisation for your Documents– at http://www.atkinsonnotary.com – or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116)

What’s In A Name? What’s In A Can Of Wasabi Peas.

What’s In A Name? What’s In A Can Of Wasabi Peas.

So big questions first – what’s in Wasabi Peas? And if it’s not wasabi, how do you feel about that?

In England Wasabi peas are not at the top of most shopping lists, but Google gives me to understand that in USA they are quite the spicy snack. And now, it seems that someone in USA has read the small print on the label, and they are not happy bunnies because it turns out that the one ingredient missing therefrom, is the slightest hint of Wasabi.

So I do get it, yes, it said wasabi peas in BIG LETTERS, but the little letters said horseradish.

And half of me says – well that’s not right and something should be done. And the other half says Yes, but the can of peas cost about $5 like those lovely Rolox watches from Vietnam or Blackpool. And the third half of me says – yes but the peas come from the largest supermarkets in USA surely they should tell me the truth.

Anyway it seems that two Americans have taken a supermarket to court. They are suing for an award in damages, because, er , it’s just not right innit.

Where will that lead. Oat milk? Milk? – Wikipedia tells us “Milk is a nutrient-rich liquid food produced in the mammary glands of mammals. It is the primary source of nutrition for infant mammals before they are able to digest other types of food.”

So Cow’s milk, is the same, but the specific mammal is bovine. OK Got it.

So clearly, Oat milk is the liquid stored in the mammary glands of oats, read to nurture baby oats?

No hang on, Oat Milk isn’t milk at all. Who knew?  Only everyone, that’s who.

What about white chocolate? Not a lot of chocolate in that is there? Cocoa solid? None per cent, actually.

In my enquiry online to find bedlinen, one well known national store offers fifty three different sheets. Of which only four contain actual linen.

Crabsticks? I mean, I must say that they are not actually made of poison, but you know – crab not so much.

But we are not children, we know this stuff.

The above is a list of some examples of where one word, often redolent of superior quality, is commonly used to describe something else which has little or nothing to do with the actual term. But we sort of go along with it.

But – are you up for buying a diamond ring from a jeweller and then being told “Oh yes of course it’s glass we just say it’s a diamond because it sounds better, but everyone knows we do that don’t they.”

So what have we got today, with the Wasabi peas?

Here is a recipe to make your own  – here is a recipe – . As you see, one of the ingredients in Wasabi peas is half a cup of freshly grated Wasabi. Yes I can see how that would be necessary.

Off to the internet. Wasabi is, we learn, the “most difficult plant to grow commercially” and costs over £190.00 per kilo.

Wasabi is related to Horseradish and its flavour is stronger and unique. But Wasabi loses its flavour quickly after it is grated so it is difficult to store. And actually Horseradish is very easy to grow and its flavour stays strong and isn’t too far off Wasabi – especially if you’ve never had the real stuff. And what’s this – Horseradish costs £8.50 a kilo so twenty times less than Wasabi.

So here is the USA court report – the big Wasabi scandal of 2020.

Let me take you back to late 2019 when Hilary Yothers (in California) and Zain Eisenberg (in New York) both bought tins of Hapi Products Inc. Wasabi peas. I cannot tell you whether these persons are related, or whether it is entirely co-incidental that they, nearly 3000 miles apart from each other and feeling esurient –link here-  popped into their respective shops and bought their respective snacks.

On the labelling on the package, the snack was described as Wasabi peas, but on the list of ingredients, Wasabi was not listed and Horseradish was.

So having discovered that the Wasabi peas contained no Wasabi well obviously off they dashed round to the courthouse.

Claiming, that had they known the peas were coated in mere Horseradish they never would have parted with their hard-earned dollars. To whit and indeed i.e. and viz, the sum of $5.99 each. Which of course is nearly $6.00 each they will never see again unless the Courts could be persuaded to right this wrong.

Now I think we all agree that if we buy a diamond ring from a jeweller we would likely call in the trading standards if it turns out to be glass. (Albeit that if we buy a diamond ring for $6.00 we have still only lost $6.00).

But two things. In UK, do we really go to court for redress if we are ripped off for a fiver?

The standard case cited as evidence of the USA crazy litigation culture is “When McDonald’s got sued because their coffee is hot”. But actually in that case the damage suffered was very real – Third degree burns. And the evidence was that the drive-through coffee was dispensed at almost boiling temperature which is undrinkably, scaldingly, hot.

Contrasted with the peas thing, where Hilary Yothers and Zain Eisenberg suffered no burns and got some tasty peas for a trivial price.

Anyway, turns out that the trading standards people in the States wouldn’t have been bothered. And neither was the Court albeit after a lot of lengthy and expensive court time spent in hearing evidence and reaching a judgement.

-Here is the judgement link-

In a nutshell, the Court said “Of course Wasabi peas in US supermarkets never has had any Wasabi in it. Don’t be so silly, it’s like crabsticks. Read the label.”

Yebbut, on the other hand, the label does say Wasabi.

So I don’t know what to say. It seems very odd to me that Wasabi peas are sold throughout the USA and apparently no-one expects a trace of Wasabi.

In Devon you’d better not make a tasty delicacy of beef and swede and onion stew all wrapped in a lovely pastry shell and call it a Cornish pasty. Or eat it with a glass of English Champagne.

Perhaps a trading standards or copyright or trademark lawyer could sort it all out?

In the meantime –link here -a happy song More Peas –

Louise and I are back at work, so please do contact us whenever you need Notarial certification or Legalisation for your Documents– at http://www.atkinsonnotary.com – or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116)

 

 

How to make a Will in England? Anyone Know?

How to make a Will in England? Anyone Know?

Course we do – it’s easy:-

Testator/Testatrix signs, watched by two witnesses who

  • Know the document is a Will (though they need not know exactly what it says) and
  • Are present at the signing and
  • Who will not be among the future heirs. (If they are named in the Will as beneficiaries the result will be that the legacy intended to be inherited by that witness will not pass, so will fall into the “residue” or into intestacy)

Then each Witness in turn, signs, watched by the other witness and by the Testator/Testatrix.

Simple as a simple thing, amazing anyone could ever get that wrong?

In England, it’s been done the same way since 1837 and you may have thought that we would know how to do it by now. Although plenty of times it’s still not done right, and I have written before about the many amusing and indeed inventive ways in which people have managed to get it wrong.

-Link Here- to earlier blog-

Of course, there is nothing amusing about the consequences of getting it wrong if it happens to you.

The thing about a Will is that typically a mistake is only found out when it’s too late to correct it. Because, well, you know.

Now we have coronavirus in our world. For the past too many months we have all been in lock-down. We have all been affected but perhaps those hardest hit in particular are those people who because of age or illness are most at risk. Which, to avoid euphemism means, – most at risk of death.

Many of the oldest and most frail people in England continue determinedly to remain indoors at home, secluding themselves from visitors. And whilst every adult in my opinion should hold a valid will most of course do not.

This CV-19 world is now a place in which everyone with any imagination has contemplated their own increased risk of early death. Dying this year, not in some comfortably far-off future. So it’s not surprising that a great many Wills are being made this year.

The problem being that now many of those people who want to make their Wills (because of fear of death) are also very unwilling to go to a lawyers’ office or to invite people into their homes to act as witnesses (because of fear of death) .

So the Law has been changed. Now, any Will made on 1st February 2020 or later is not invalid if the witnesses and person making their Will were only together “virtually”. Watching each other on ZOOM or Skype, Teams or such. On a Computer tablet or phone.

Here is – the government guidance link-

So that’s alright. By the way: – How is your old Mum on her computer? Does she tweet? Into WhatsApp and TikTok? Thought not.

OK I know we are not only talking about older people, but they will be in the majority.

And remember, the old lady computer wizard will need two witnesses. And as stated above, they must not be people who will benefit under the will. So no children for example. So two friends then. Probably two more old ladies with good tech skills then? Not a problem in sight.

The national understanding of those who report about this in the press is that now Wills in England are to be made in a different way, with the three parties to the signing and all of them online.

This is the way stuff works isn’t it. The actual intention is that video-witnessing whilst permitted should be a last resort. Used only in exceptional and unusual circumstances. But I suspect no-one will be listening to that. Humans love to rush into new stuff.

Carl Sagan died last century. Was he wrong to say, before iPads and smart phones even: – “We’ve built a society on science and technology in which nobody understands anything about science and technology, and this combustible mixture of ignorance and power sooner or later is going to blow up in our faces.”?

I would suggest that the model permitted under the new rules will be too difficult for the majority of those trying to do this, if they try to do it without a lawyer. How will the attestation clause be written to reflect what has happened so that the Probate Registry will not be raising difficult requisitions after the death?

How many people persist in believing that being a witness means only – signing my name?

The guidance says that the original document once the will-maker has signed it “shall be taken for the two online witnesses to sign ideally within 24 hours“. Taken, taken by whom? Everyone is isolating. Posted then? How many daily collections do you have?

Is this a Jane Austen or Wodehouse novel where I decide to invite you to dinner tonight and so I post the invitation at nine a.m. and get your posted acceptance by three p.m. so I can send the servants to buy the food in time for the feast?

And if the two witnesses live 500 miles from you and 500 miles from each other? And if the broadband connection is a bit tricky on the day. And when you get it, the other witness is not available to zoom. Or one witness simply signs and forgets to zoom the testator.

So the reality in my opinion is that too many mistakes are going to be made unless this kind of witnessing is done as an alternative only to the traditional way – where the will maker goes to the lawyers’ office where the two lawyers act as Witnesses.

I can just about see it working like that. So that way, the video-conference is between the signer at home and the two lawyer witnesses at their office, then the signer by some means gets the paper to the lawyers then a second zoom meeting where the signer confirms the signature is genuine and watches the witnesses sign it together.

Another point I might make is that in my view the new model also fails to reflect the “last minute” nature of the way Wills are often made.

I have attended many deathbeds in hospitals and hospices to witness Wills. The Testator has sometimes died later the same day. The new model won’t work in that scenario. Not with one postal collection a day.

Increasingly of course people are dying with large fortunes often resulting from increasing property values over the years. This has been the reason for the flood of litigation in recent years in which disappointed sons and daughters and others have tried to challenge the validity of wills which did not make them as rich as they wanted.

That means there’s a gang who will be looking for loopholes. (W.C. Fields would read the Bible for no other reason). And what a rich seam of loopholes the new rules might provide. Not the least will be the almost thrown-away phrase in the new guidance that “ideally they (the testator and the witnesses) should be present with each other but if this is not possible …..”

NOT POSSIBLE. Define “not possible”. Anyone? It means CANNOT be done. It doesn’t mean – “too much hassle”, or “I feel safer if I don’t”.   I don’t know what it does mean though. Does anyone? That is the state of the law these days.

So my summary is, This is new, So Let’s all ignore it.

Wills witnessed remotely are fraught with possibilities of mistakes, and vulnerable to challenge. Only use them as a last resort. Having said that, making a Will by any means is better than not making a Will

Let’s all stay safe, wash our hands, wear a mask and with a fair wind there’ll be no need to –Call The Doctor-

Louise and I are back at work, so please do contact us whenever you need Notarial certification or Legalisation for your Documents– at http://www.atkinsonnotary.com – or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116)

 

Notarisation. All Human Life is here. A Matter of Birth, Marriage and Death?

Notarisation. All Human Life is here. A Matter of Birth, Marriage and Death?

Last week Louise showed how notarisation can literally be a matter of life and death. –Link-

And certainly Notaries are involved in every aspect of human existence and therefore that necessarily includes Births, Marriages and Deaths.

The function of a Notary is to certify (and financially underwrite) facts. Usually in the case of an English Notary this is done to assist persons in a foreign jurisdiction so that they can be sure of what has actually been done, or signed, and by whom, in England.

But England is a country with its own laws, rules and customs, and “abroad”, just like the past, is a separate and always foreign country.

They do things differently there.

An example:- For a valid marriage in Brazil, it is fine for someone who cannot travel to get married there, to sign a Power of Attorney and appoint someone else to go there for you. And if your future spouse can’t get there either then someone else can be appointed too. A second Power of Attorney can be made and a second Attorney can turn up for the Marriage.

So neither of the two people who turn up at the Church or Registry Office are actually parties to the marriage. But the marriage is valid nonetheless.

That procedure is not available to create a legal marriage in England. But if both parties are present in England and want to sign those Powers of Attorney before a Notary Public in England – then fine.

There is an English law against not going to your own English marriage, but no English Law against not going to your Brazilian marriage.

So the principle which I have to follow as a Notary seems to be that I can assist my clients to achieve abroad whatever the foreign law allows, unless there is an English law that says that this is something that an English Notary cannot do.

Two areas other than marriage in which Notaries are often asked to help are in relation to

1 – Assisted suicides and

2 – Surrogate births.

I have blogged before about Dignitas et al. -Here is the link-

In a nutshell, I may not assist if I know or am told that the purpose of the document being signed in my presence is to facilitate voluntary acceleration of death.

Because whilst suicide itself is not a crime, it can be a crime to aid and abet suicide, particularly for money.

Enough about Death – What about Birth? What about surrogacy and notaries?

If assisted suicide relates to “unnaturally” ending a burdensome life, Surrogacy might be seen as the opposite. It is a means of “unnaturally” bringing into being a much wanted life.

There is nuance in the word “unnatural”.

Taken neutrally, it means only “contrary to the ordinary course of nature”.

In 1978, when everything was different, a Judge called surrogacy “irresponsible, bizarre and unnatural”. He is likely to have meant, and was surely understood to be meaning “irresponsible, bizarre and deviant, inhuman, perverted” – that sort of thing.

No-one thinks like that anymore so far as I know.

But if ever there was a scope for profiteering, put overwhelming desire for a child in the mix with short supply and there you are.

After years of exploitation of their citizens becoming surrogates in the hope of alleviating poverty, India Nepal and Thailand have banned –or at least rendered illegal – commercial surrogacy. -Link to NY Times article-

And how about this for an illustration of the dark side when profit becomes the motive? – unsterile hospitals, surrogate mothers treated like cattle in Ukraine according to Aljazeera – link here –

The English Law up to date has tried to balance –on one hand- the legitimate desire of infertile or same-sex couples to raise their own children by surrogacy, and the legitimate desire of altruistic and willing surrogate mothers to assist them, whether or not to be paid for doing so against –on the other hand – the obvious and real risks of exploitation and profiteering by hard headed commercial or even criminal interests.

-Here’s the Law –

So in England, commercial surrogacy companies cannot exist. So if you are English, you will be going abroad if the arrangement is commercial – if you are going to pay the mother and the doctors who are working for profit.

Which is where the Notaries come in, because just like the marriage by Power of Attorney in Brazil in the early paragraphs above, what is not illegal abroad can be notarised in England if the notarisation itself in England is not illegal.

But aiding and abetting commercial surrogacy enterprises (as opposed to charitable and/or non-profit-making foundations) – is also illegal in England.

Simple enough for you?

So when a couple come to see me to notarise their surrogacy agreement from Colorado, it’s not exactly straightforward for me to work out, can I help or not?

You tell me, I’ve given you the law.

My own answer? –  A resounding “It depends”.

Here is the song, an excuse for some vintage footage –Link here – (that was from 1963 – and did you know that Ronnie Spector most recently issued a single in 2017 – here it is- )

Louise and I are back at work, so please do contact me or Chris whenever you need Notarial certification or Legalisation for your Documents– at http://www.atkinsonnotary.com – or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116)

 

 

Notary Certification Of Degrees – A Rubber Stamp? Or A Matter Of Life And Death?

Notary Certification Of Degrees – A Rubber Stamp? Or A Matter Of Life And Death?

Louise Morley writes – It is good to be back in the office and, to celebrate, here is my first Blog of the new normal.

We have blogged before about the crucial importance of Degree verification. Here and Here.

Now once again, here is a link to an Indian newspaper – this time a mother has lost her unborn child because of a criminal with fake certification who was able to get a job and hold it for ten years as a Doctor at Bangladesh Medical College Hospital.

There is nothing to be done about the harm that has been done. No compensation can reverse a death.

If you are a Degree Holder you are competing for employment with criminals whose degrees are fake. You can get the edge by proving that your qualifications are Genuine, with verification by a Notary.

If you are an employer – do we really need to say it – CHECK the references? How? With verification by a Notary.

It has been brought to our attention on more than a few occasions that persons who require to have their educational and police certificates certified for use abroad are increasingly finding “Solicitors” who are willing and prepared to give a certification on a document which is to be used abroad.

For anyone who is not aware, please note that a “Solicitor” and a “Notary” are two different professions – both can in fact give certifications on documents.  A Solicitor can certify documents for use in England and Wales and a Notary gives certifications on documents for use in any country of the world.  A Solicitor is a creature of England and Wales only, and usually only carries insurance to deal with documents within the remit of England and Wales. Also they are liable only to their own clients, not to third parties who rely on their certificates.

A Notary is a legal officer who is authorised to deal with documents for ANY country of the world and also carries insurance for all third parties.

There is also great confusion as to what is meant by a “certification”.  Most certifications given by solicitors are to confirm that a document is a true copy of an original – so for example, they would take your Degree Certificate, place it on a photocopier and take a copy and then certify that the copy produced is a true copy of the original and nothing further.

So if you are a crook with a forged certificate, you will get a Solicitor certification that “This is a true copy of the original”. They have put the lipstick on the pig. But it’s still a pig.

That certification is really not what the foreign jurisdiction are wanting to see.  They want a certification that confirms that a document is genuine and that what it says on it can be relied upon.

But all too often the lipsticked pig is accepted abroad because after all, the foreign end user probably doesn’t have English as their first language. What they are reading is “This is a true copy of the original”.

What they think those words mean is “The original Document of which this is a true copy is Genuine.”

They don’t.

A Notary Public authenticates your Degree or TEFL Certificate of ACRO Police check as GENUINE and “certifies” directly on either your original certificate to confirm this.

Students and job seekers tend to ring around for the best quotes and inevitably ring a Solicitors office asking for a certification and are told “yes we can do that for a fiver” – client is ecstatic to get it done so cheaply because of course a Notary’s fee to authenticate and verify and notarise is much more than a measly fiver – so off they trot to the high street solicitor firm with their certificates to get “certified” copies done for a fiver so they can use them abroad.

Once they have their certified copies, say they are wanting to use them in UAE for a teaching job they have got lined up – they will be aware that once they have their certified certificates they need to then submit them to the Foreign Office to obtain additional stamps called an “Apostille” – Apostille cost £30 each and then finally the UAE Embassy stamps costing £37.00 each – so off they go to the post office to post their solicitor certified copies to the Foreign Office for their respective Apostille – Apostille placed on the document no problem confirming that the Solicitor signature is genuine – finally the client submits them to the UAE Embassy and pays all the fees to get the certificates stamped.

Job done, so it seems, client has got his/her certificates back “certified” and legalised with the FCO and UAE – so now they send to the end recipient in UAE so they can hopefully get the green light to go out and undertake employment.  Sadly this is when the client gets told the bad news that their solicitor certified and legalised certificates have been rejected as they have been dealt with by a Solicitor and not a Notary. And of course, does not even say that the degree is Genuine.

It has been a major waste of time and money for the client – back to the drawing board they go to find a Notary who is able to certify and legalise their certificates in the correct manner.

This is happening more often than not and this Blog is really just to highlight the point to our clients and our solicitor colleagues of the pitfalls of giving just a certification.

Nothing is ever as straightforward as it seems – But doing it right, could save a life.

So let’s all sing – Don’t Let the Bad Guys Win

We are back at work, so please do contact me or Chris whenever you need Notarial certification or Legalisation for your Documents– at http://www.atkinsonnotary.com – or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116)