European Cacophony for Notaries. Where is the Harmony?

European Cacophony for Notaries. Where is the Harmony?

This week’s Blog is about European Harmonisation and I do mean that sarcastically.

I do not necessarily expect any reader to spend too long getting to the bottom of it all: my intent is merely to give an example of the sort of knots that Notaries so often have to untie on behalf of their clients.

Not everyone has a straightforward Nationality, Domicile or residence. Each word refers to a legal concept about which there are hundreds of years of precedents and case laws, and it would be possible for one person to have Nationality of one Country, residence of another, and domicile of a third. Though rare.

The circumstances of the case below, reported by a colleague Notary, is by no means untypical or particularly unusual.

The English resident was born in England. She has Spanish parents and a Spanish passport.

Her intention is to marry in Italy. The Italian Registry Office requested from her a Spanish certificate that she is alive and asked for this to be legalized with the Apostille.

The Spanish consulate in London granted the certificate.

The British FCO under article 1 of the Hague Convention will not legalise with the Apostille a document issued by a foreign consulate.

Nor will the Spanish Foreign Office in Madrid even though the certificate was issued by their London colleagues.

In fact as my colleague has pointed out to the Italians, under article 2 of the European Convention on the Abolition of Legalisation of Documents Executed by Diplomatic Agents or Consular Officers of the European Council signed in London the 7th June 1968 (and adopted by Spain the 28th August 1982), such a document is exempted of legalisation. Spain and Italy are parties of that Convention. So, there is in fact no need of legalization under International Law.

Will that impress the Italians? Doubtful, No one likes to lose face, or enjoys having their mistakes pointed out to them. Least of all a bureaucrat, arguably.

Nor do I understand why the Italians take the view that the Spanish must issue the Certificate of life in the first place. The woman is in England, surely an English Notary could do this.

My advice to her would be, get married in England. A small affair in a Registry Office, followed by the intended celebrations in Italy. As a “Blessing” rather than a wedding, there will be no such problems of red tape, and none of their guests need know if she doesn’t tell them.

And she can wear her wedding dress twice, – does that halve the cost of it?

If this is a harmonised Europe, I wonder what it used to be like?

Or can we get ever together? Cue for a Song.  Link here

At least your visit to my office will be harmonious: you will receive a warm welcome and very good coffee. You can contact me or Louise here at AtkinsonNotary E7 Joseph’s Well Leeds LS3 1AB, phone 0113 8160116 and email