New Foreign Office (FCO) Practice Enforces Best Practice

A Notary is required to certify the truth of matters – usually execution of documents. Those documents vary from a short sentence on one sheet of paper to documents which might cover hundreds of pages. It is always essential in order to protect you and those persons relying upon your document that, after Notarization, no changes can be made to the document.

It is good practice for any document which is of more than one sheet of paper that it should be firmly bound – this protects the parties who are relying upon it. If a book or long document is securely bound it will be obvious if an attempt has been made to remove a page and substitute a page with different wording.

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has now incorporated this good practice into its own procedures and has contacted the Notaries Society to tell all Notaries in England and Wales that it will in future refuse to add its Apostille to any document that is not securely bound. For the avoidance of doubt the use of a staple does not fall within the definition of “securely bound”.

This does potentially cause a conflict between the requirements of Notaries in England on the one hand and some foreign jurisdictions on the other. Particularly in USA, Attorneys often request that lengthy documents be returned to them with no staple or bindings at all. Presumably, this is so that they can be sheet-fed into a scanner or fax machine. I have always sought to resist such requests and I am pleased to note that I now have Foreign Office authority in support of my views.

Do please contact me whenever you require your legal documents for use abroad endorsed with the FCO Apostille – email or phone +44 (0) 1138160116

Once Again – Why You Need To Make Your Will


I have prepared several blogs over the years to explain the importance of making a Will. Here is another.

I know that many adults in England think that if they are married and not millionaires then no Will is necessary because if one married partner dies first then the operation of The Intestacy Rules (the law that applies where there is no Will) will be to pass that person’s estate to the surviving spouse.

In some circumstances that is true although I do not advise reliance upon it. However in 2013 there is a case that highlights the way in which even this simple rule can backfire.

Here a lady was married but separated and living with a new partner for 6 years – she and her husband owned a joint life assurance policy purchased before they separated.

On her death payment of £136,000 (life Insurance) was payable. The English Courts were able to rule that only half of that sum belonged to the husband, the rest belonged to the estate of the deceased wife. The trouble is, she was married and had made no Will – accordingly under The Intestacy Rules the husband received her half of the money as wel -l in spite of the fact that for six years she had been living with another man and had children with him.

There is simply no end to the ways in which hindsight can make obvious the danger of making no Will. If you would like to discuss the point with me please do make contact.

So – If all of your estate is in England, see your Solicitor or ask me to recommend one to you – and if you have property abroad then see me! My phone number is 0113 80160116 or email me now on

Updating Your Blog? Take Care!

My blogs show the Month and Year when they were written. So does a legal textbook. So does a Newspaper.

Would anyone suppose that a textbook called “The Law of Companies” published in 1960, could be relied upon as a source of up to date law in 2014? (If they would you should seek another advisor.)

If an edition of a Newspaper in May 2013 said that Police Officer X has been arrested upon suspicion of serious corruption, does that imply that X is guilty? Of course not. In May 2013 it is a simple statement of what has happened.

BUT – if the Newspaper has an online edition, with the May 2013 article online, and a later update in say July 2013 which tells you the case is now being sent for trial, and you can still read both articles in January 2014 what then? – if in the meantime X has been cleared and has been restored to his post without a stain on his character?

Apparently, if the Newspaper has updated the story once, then thereafter it must keep on doing so or render itself liable in damages for defamation. According to a Judge, if a news story from say May 2013 has been updated once by an on-line newspaper, say in June 2013, then it is reasonable for Readers to assume that whenever they access the website thereafter the story will be up to date – that what was said to be true in June 2013 is still true. They have seen that the newspaper DOES do updates, so the law says that thereafter it MUST do updates. Read more here on the Pinsent Masons website

If you are a Blogger then, just like a Newspaper, you are publishing on-line.

So if you are a Blogger, make sure that you date each of your blogs. And if you ever return to a blog and update it, don’t forget to keep doing so [or else delete the whole blog thread] whenever new facts emerge, particularly if your earlier blog mentions matters which affect a person’s reputation and which, though true at the time, can now be clearly seen to be false.