Notarise – Then Legalise. Sounds Easy? Full of Pitfalls!

Notarise – Then Legalise. Sounds Easy? Full of Pitfalls!

One of the services that we offer here at AtkinsonNotary Limited is dealing with legalisation of documents. This is the process of obtaining Apostilles and Consulate stamps. Depending on the Country where your documents will be used, different requirements will apply as to legalisation. We know what to do and are very happy to assist.

When you have a document to Notarise, only a Notary can do that.

After that, once Notarised, your documents will usually require further legalisation before they will be accepted in the foreign Country for which they have been prepared. It is not essential that you instruct me to deal with y our legalisation, but I strongly suggest that you do.

We have recently been asked to deal with a large file of ten Notarizations for the second time, because the Angolan Consulate has rejected them when our client has applied direct. This after our client has spent hundreds of pounds in my original fees and wasted a lot more money in attempts to legalise them herself.

The sad irony is that the client is a student with not much money and was trying to save money by not instructing us to deal with the Consular stamps and to “do it herself”. As she has found, the process is fraught with difficulty.

It is important to note that each Consulate can have varying instructions as to what they will accept to enable them to legalise the documents. In the case of Angola the Consulate has a very specific procedure that needs to be followed otherwise you will be wasting valuable time and incurring serious expense to do so.

The Angolan Consulate will not legalise documents that are not in the Portuguese language.

So if you have an English written document that requires the Angolan Consulate stamp then we will do all of the work for you:-
The English document needs to be Notarised first of all.
Once the Notarisation formalities have taken place we can then send a scan of this to our translators for the Portuguese, the official language of Angola.
Once we have received the translation this would then need to be annexed [bound] to the Notarised English-language document. The Portuguese text MUST be bound first – then the English document goes after.

I will at that stage sign and place my stamp and seal upon the official translation.

The bound document is then ready to be submitted to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for its Apostille.

It is important to note that the Angolan Consulate requires that the Apostille stamp is placed on the reverse of the translated Portuguese document only and NOT on the English text. If this does not happen then the document will be rejected. We will ensure this is done right.

Once the document has its Apostille this is now ready to be submitted to our Agents in London to take to the Angolan Consulate in person to obtain the official Consulate stamp.

For all your requirements with Notarisations and subsequent Legalisations, please contact me– at or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116)

Magna Carta. Highly Thought Of, – By Those Who Have Never Read It!

Magna Carta. Highly Thought Of, – By Those Who Have Never Read It!

The year 2015 is gearing up in England for a celebration of the 800 anniversary of the signing of the first Magna Carta in England in 1215. [There were later revised versions]
In the midst of national and international celebration of this document one Supreme Court Justice – Lord Sumption OBE has made a speech which is somewhat out of step with prevailing commentaries.

Lord Sumption says that the Prime Minister David Cameron, “armed with a copy of an Edwardian illustrated text book for children, has called Magna Carta the document that paved the way for democracy, equality and the rule of law as the foundation of all our laws and liberties – elevating Magna Carta to the level of sacred text”.

He goes on:- “claims like those that I have just cited are high minded tosh”.

He explains that a form of historical re-writing has taken place in the last 800 years particularly in the 17th century when Magna Carta was transformed from a somewhat technical catalogue of feudal regulations intended to protect the interests of the Barons and the Church, which is what it actually was, into the foundation document of the English constitution of present reputation.

In a splendid turn of phrase he says that “This is a status which Magna Carta has enjoyed ever since, among the large community of commentators who have never actually read it”.

The full text of Lord Sumption’s speech is here and you will see if you read it that the learned Judge is in no way seeking to belittle the importance and indeed the current significance of the now almost mythological status of Magna Carta.

He agrees that Magna Carta has a symbolic significance. It is seen, however incorrectly, to be a symbol of fairness, of respect for individual rights, of an understanding that no person, not even the King, is above the Law. And it is this fond belief which has become “part of the rhetoric of the English libertarian tradition based on the rule of law – a precocious and distinctively English contribution to western political theory”.

The point he makes is that the Magna Carta of common understanding is not the actual medieval document which is now 800 years old but rather the myth. And as a Myth, more valuable, since it can underpin the ethos of our laws, yet without being as uncompromisingly inflexible as a written constitution would be.

Having said that, his closing words give pause for thought – “Do we need to derive our belief in democracy and the rule of law from a group of muscular conservative millionaires from the north of England, who thought in French, knew no Latin or English, and died more than three quarters of a millennium ago? I rather hope not.”

Paperless Office? Yes. But We Use As Much Paper As We Ever Did!

Paperless Office? Yes. But We Use As Much Paper As We Ever Did!

All businesses need their “Books”. Whether documented in paper ledgers or on computer disc, no Business can rely on memory alone to sort out who did what, and when, and what money is payable or owing. The taxman requires documentary proof of all trading after all.

Many businesses are also keeping records for their clients. Banks and Solicitors, Life Assurance Companies and many other concerns are always expected to be able to account to their clients, or indeed their Executors, to fill in gaps in the client’s own recollection or understanding of what was done and when.

In each of those professions or businesses, there are rules as to when old records can be destroyed. And, generally speaking, those businesses are liable only to their paying clients and perhaps their Regulatory Body if records are lost or destroyed early

The Notarial profession is different to all of the others, in that a Notary is required to maintain records without limit of time. And a Notary owes this responsibility not only to the party who paid for his services, but to anyone in the world who has read and relied upon a Notarial certificate.

So Notarial records have to be kept “forever”! Even after my death, my records would then need to be passed directly for safe keeping to the control of my Regulator, the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

I qualified and began practicing as a Notary in 1993 and my record keeping began then. At that time there was no affordable computer scanning of documents. Everything had to be copied, and the copies filed and stored in boxes. In my case, the boxes were stored in my garage and by time I had been collecting papers for twelve years or so, the car had to be parked outside the garage to make room.

In 2008 I retired as a Solicitor and set up my present Notarial office dealing with Notarial duties only – by then scanning facilities had become available and affordable and so these days I can operate a paperless system. This works very well and all records can be kept safely and securely and indeed backed up on several drives for resilience.

The really big job was left for my marvellous assistant, Louise Morley, who has recently concluded the task of taking the backlog of fifteen years’ worth of records, and scanning it all into the back-up system. This task was no easy feat, indeed it took around eighteen months to complete – each individual piece of paper in all the boxes and boxes needed to be scanned and indexed accordingly.

Even now and then there was a scream – Louise had shaken a file and a dead spider had landed on her desk.

Now all the old paper records, scanned and saved and indexed, have been securely shredded.

My notarial office now runs competently on a paperless* system – and my car is back in its garage – the new system works extremely well.

*In truth, I cannot say that we use any less paper than we ever did – but the point is that once the job is done, we no longer have to keep the paper for ever.

There is one caveat to all this in my mind. As a storage medium, paper and papyrus has been going a few years longer than computers. The oldest records on paper are some 2500 years old and if they had been written in English, would be as easy to read now as on the day they were written.

The earliest computerised documents management systems date back as far as what – thirty, maybe forty years? And who now can easily read what may have been written on an Amstrad or Commodore floppy disc? Hmmm.

Please do navigate through to our website for more information about the services we can give – or contact us by phone or email, we are very happy to help: at or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116) and email and

Companies House “Typo” Costs Millions.

The most shocking case – to me –  which has been in the Civil Court news in the last month is that of Sebry -v- Companies House [the Registrar of Companies].

It is a graphic illustration of the fact that all of us who own or work for Limited Companies are at the mercy of Companies House.

I have noticed personally over the last ten years or so a definite decline in the reliability of the information which Companies House has provided to me about my clients and I have seen evidence of mistakes recently which I had never seen in previous decades.

The particular case relates to two Companies called “Taylor & Son Limited” [from Manchester area incorporated 2004] and “Taylor & Sons Limited” [established in 1890 and incorporated in 1900 practicing in Cardiff].

The Manchester Company was ordered into liquidation by the Chancery Court in January 2009.

The Court Order was notified to Companies House by Insolvency Practitioners who [lazily] did not quote the unique Number of that Company.

Then Companies House, through a combination of carelessness and failure to comply with its own procedures, responded by placing information on the Companies House Registers to the effect that the other Company Taylor & Sons Limited, had been placed into insolvency.

This is despite the fact that the first Company was adjacent to the second Company in an alphabetical list of Companies – which one would have thought would make it obvious to the Civil Servant concerned [Philip Davies] that there was risk of confusion, thereby imposing a high duty of carefulness in checking which Company was actually the subject of the order – compounded by the fact that the in-house printed job “User Manual” for Mr Davies stated that he should reject any such applications for registration which did not give the Company number. Problem – No-one bothered to use the manual!

A Company can never change its number – and it could theoretically change its name daily. If the application for registration had shown the number of the insolvent Company which was 05044596 there was really no likelihood that Mr Davies would have entered an Order against the Cardiff Company whose number is 00067032. The number was not quoted, Mr Davies failed to reject the application for lack of the number as his standing guidance required him to do and due to carelessness made the mistake.

As a reading of the Court judgment published this year shows, the mistake was actually later compounded because when the Cardiff Company was notified what had happened it made representations to Companies House on the date the Registration was made which resulted in an assurance that matters would be sorted out immediately.

In fact the incorrect Registration was not removed until 23rd February 2009 three days after being first registered.

In the world as it is now, within those three days the false information was not only available to everyone in the world with internet connection but was also actively pushed out into the world by the Companies House – for money.

Three bulk products, the Daily Directory Update, the Daily Liquidation Update and the Times Critical Daily Update buy this stuff. They are subscription services supplying Experian, Dunn & Bradstreet, Equifax, Jordans and many others.

The task with which Companies House was faced when it realised its mistake was equivalent to contacting personally every person with a computer using these services. In essence an impossible job – the false information had flown around the world.

Shortly after Companies House had told everyone that Taylor & Sons Limited was insolvent  it lost its ongoing contact with the steel giant Corus [now Tata] and lost three major new engineering projects which had been expected.

It is almost as if Companies House was employing fortune tellers – in February 2009 they had registered information to show that Taylor & Sons Limited was insolvent – by April 2009 the Company went into administration!

It had lost its most valuable customers – who had been given the false news – and then its Bank had withdrawn credit facilities.

The Company therefore had to close and to dismiss its workforce – a workforce of around 250 people lost their jobs because of the carelessness of a Civil Servant and they lost their jobs at the height of a recession.

The judgment of Mr Justice Edis can be read on this link

I commend it, [if it is not impertinent of me as a mere Notary Public to do so] as a model of clarity. Indeed I wonder whether I cannot detect in the very detached style and reasoned wording of the extremely thorough judgment [which paragraph by paragraph clangs shut one by one any windows of hope for the Companies House case] a tang of outrage, contempt and distain for the position and arguments of Companies House in this case. No doubt I am reading it through the filter of my own views.

The Judge was meticulous in slamming shut the door in respect of the argument of Companies House who raised issues for the Court to decide:-
First whether they have a duty of care to Mr Sebry’s Company at all,
Second whether their carelessness had actually breached any such duty of care [in fairness this point was abandoned by Companies House before the trial] and
Thirdly whether it was the actual breach of duty that caused the Company to enter administration – inviting the Court to consider the possibility that the Company might have gone bust anyway.

The conclusion of the Judge’s speech is poetically short – the Judge holds that “the Registrar of Companies House owes a duty of care in Common Law when entering a winding up Order on the Register to take reasonable care that the Order is not registered against the wrong Company”. “The duty extends to taking reasonable care to enter the Order on the record of the Company named in the Order and not of any other Company”. “It does not extend to checking information supplied by third parties. It extends only to entering that information accurately on the Register”.

At any rate after an ordeal which might have driven a lesser man to his grave it appears that Mr Sebry’s Company will be able to claim damages from Companies House in a figure that is expected to run in to the top end of seven figures. Millions and Millions of pounds.

There is no such happy ending in prospect for the 250 workers, or their families or dependents.

One presumes that Mr Davies has at least tendered his resignation, though there is no confirmation of that in the Court reports.