Getting It Right – Paperwork For Use In India

Guidance for Preparation and Signing of Legal papers for use in India

When the task is to prepare a document in England for acceptance abroad, there are many countries in the world which seem to make it unnecessarily difficult.

Angola, Nigeria, Dominican Republic and Russia spring to mind, and in Europe, perhaps Austria.

However, one Country in particular stands out in the “difficult to get it right” stakes, and step forward, India.

If there were only one message I could give to you, it is that it ultimately costs more to get it wrong than to get it right. Taking shortcuts in respect of legal documentation for any foreign Country is a recipe for wasting money. For India however there seems to be no single formula or set of words which will be accepted everywhere. Instead, every Lawyer there has his [rarely her’s] own ideas, his own way of doing things.

Typical mistakes/reasons for rejection include the following:

1. Drafting the Deeds yourself.
2. Failure to Notarise.
3. Failure to legalise.
4. Failure to Witness as required.

There are more mistakes which can result in rejection of your documents in India, but these four above are far and away the most usual.

To expand on these –

1. Drafting the Deed Yourself.

I have been a Notary now for over Twenty two years and I have a copy of every Indian Power of Attorney I have ever notarized. There are many hundreds of them and each one is different in words or in format. If you have any experience of India, you will know that nothing is standardized there. Most Indian Lawyers consider that their documents are the only correct ones. The Moral – Get your lawyer in India to draft your paperwork. If you draft it yourself, they will reject it. It can be emailed over to UK and then I can print it at my office for you.

2. Failure to Notarise.

There are unfortunately many Solicitors in England who appear to be willing to countersign as your witness on your Indian Deeds. This is ALWAYS WRONG. A Solicitor who is not a Notary, is not accepted in India as an appropriate Witness for your Deeds.

3. Failure to Legalise

This is a tricky area. India has signed the 1961 Convention of The Hague and your Notarized documents should be legalised with the Apostille stamp. But, to muddy the waters, often documents will be accepted without this, and on the other hand sometimes Indian lawyers incorrectly ask for an Indian High Commission Stamp. This article is too short to give full details of all the problems, but I can explain if you phone or email me.

4. Failure to Witness.

With the exception only of some Bank Deeds, all Indian Deeds executed in England and particularly Powers of Attorney require that your signature is witnessed by two adults in addition to me the Notary. There are many ways to get this wrong, only one way to get it right. Again, I do explain what is needed whenever a new client contacts me, and in my Office I can provide these extra Witnesses.

There are of course other ways to get things wrong. Some Deeds will be rejected unless you add photographs. Some Indian Lawyers demand [wrongly] that you use pre-stamped paper purchased in India. Some insist on green paper, some insist on strange sizes of paper.

The message I am hoping to give, is that time spent on preparation, in contacting your foreign lawyers and quizzing them in great detail as to EXACTLY what they want from you in England, will not be wasted. Otherwise the experience can turn into a frustrating and expensive [in both time and money] series of trial and error experiments.

As I say, I shall be only too happy to assist you through the maze. You can contact me or my colleague Louise Morley here at AtkinsonNotary E7 Joseph’s Well Leeds LS3 1AB, phone 0113 8160116 and email