Make a Will. Make a List. Think Digital.

Make a Will. Make a List. Think Digital

If you die …….. – perhaps I should start again.

WHEN you die.

Yes that has a better ring to it. Because, you will. Sorry about that.

Some folk obsess about their coming deaths, some are terrified. Philip Larkin was the expert -Link Here-

It seems to me that unlike Larkin most folk put the matter at the back of their minds and concentrate on choosing a new car.

The fact is, we are all of us in a short term period and when it’s over it’s over. During our short lives, we tend to accumulate STUFF. For thousands of years this has been going on, and accordingly there has been plenty of time for the law to grow and take account of this human state of affairs.

There is a plentiful case-law and statue basis to regulate how we can make our wills and how the STUFF we leave behind is to be valued and what tax is to be paid on it and who can be “executors” appointed to deal with all this work. There are rules about Trusts, and estate management and the giving of gifts and surviving seven years and different inheritance tax rates for gifts to spouses and on it goes, and the lawyers have done it all before.

A problem arises however when a new technology disrupts all the previous ways of doing things.

For example, first mobile phones came into existence, and then the law noticed and regulation was invented to deal with it. Thirty or so years ago I was an “early adopter” of a Motorola mobile phone with perhaps thirty minutes talk time – ten hours to charge.

I used to dread it ringing if I was on a train, – embarrassing or what?

So that’s something that has swept the world – the phones arrived first, then the law caught up to deal with it.

Now someone invents Digital Currency, that’s Bitcoin right? Up to a point, Lord Copper. The internet carries a Digital Currency index of 1372 entries. Should you buy Bitcoin? But what about Pirl? Or Crypto Bullion? What what?

This seems to be an areas of assets which most of us have never heard of and people who probably don’t understand it (and if they think they do perhaps that’s only what they think) have nevertheless invested millions of real pounds into buying and selling it.

So in the last few years, millions, billions of pounds of value, exists ONLY inside computers.

So after thousands of years of folk being born and accumulating STUFF and then dying in a regulated world where the transmission of STUFF [less tax] to the next generation is clearly choreographed, now folk are dying as the owners of NEWSTUFF.

It’s STUFF, but it can only be found inside a computer. The law has not caught up.

And now when you die, your family or whoever goes into your study and can’t find a safe or a filing cabinet with a paper file list of all your investments and of where they are, what Bank, what sort code. Instead they find your iPad. And that’s it. And they don’t know how to open it and have a look.

Now if you were still alive, you could enter the locking password, and see what secrets the iPad holds.

If you are dead and have not told anyone at all what your password is, that might be the beginning of a world of pain for your loved ones.

If you have made your Will [You have made your Will, Haven’t you?] then you will have named your choice of persons to act as your Executors. Their job is to ascertain all of your assets, and realise them and pass them across to their new owners in accordance with your Will.

On the other hand, if all they have to start with is the knowledge that on your iPad is a document called “Open this when I am Dead” – but the iPad is locked ……

It seems that it is possible for Apple or the FBI to open a locked iPad. But they won’t do it for you. There are ways to get the iPad going again, but they involve restoring the device, and thereby wiping all of its previous contents so that you start again as if it were new. Not too useful.

So at the very least, put your Will in a drawer in your house and in the same envelope put in the necessary codes to open your computer.

And if you are the Executor, once you are inside the computer, take care. The on-line “assets” of the deceased computer-owner will be held on the basis of the terms and conditions of the relevant on-line provider. You know, those boring pages full of stuff we never read before we tick the button that says ”I have read and accept these terms”.

So bear in mind that it is not necessarily a matter of logging in to those assets using the i/d and password of the deceased. That might be a criminal office. If you find my i/d and password details for my bank and use them to log in – that is a crime whilst I am alive. And likely enough, whilst I am dead also.

And if the deceased has an Amazon prime or Netflix or Spotify account, can anyone continue to use them after his/her death? If s/he has ten children can s/he leave all the Kindle electronic books collection to each of them? You can’t do that with real books.  And an iTunes music collection? It might have cost thousands of pounds for a huge collection of music, but the right to listen to any of it dies with the deceased.

It is a minefield and the law is not yet up to speed with the issues.

The best you can do I suggest, is make your Will with a Solicitor who is alive to all of these issues [see what I did there?] and make specific provision for each of your digital assets.

And don’t forget, tell them the unlock code for your device!

In the meantime –Link Here- Life’s A Gas

Remember, if you require our services or if you have any queries on any of the services that we offer then please so not hesitate to email us and

Or alternatively please telephone on 0113 8160116 or 07715608747.  Please also feel free to visit our website




Trading Overseas? – We Can Help With Companies House Documents… From Louise, at AtkinsonNotary

Trading Overseas? – We Can Help With Companies House Documents…
From Louise, at AtkinsonNotary

Please note one of the very many services we offer is obtaining your company documents directly from Companies House and notarising them as genuine to send to a foreign jurisdiction.

Usually this is required to confirm that the company in question is of good standing and is, as at the date of notarisation, in existence. Depending on the country, once notarised the certificate may then be required to be sent for further legalisation i.e Apostille and/or foreign embassy stamps.

Please see my link here for earlier blogs explaining the legalisation process.

The usual process for us to proceed would be for you – our client – to confirm the full name of your company and if possible the company number – we can apply directly at Companies House and request that the certificate be either emailed or posted directly to us. The usual certificates we get asked to “notarise” are:

1. Certificate of Incorporation/Certificates of Incorporation on Change of Name
2. Certificates of Good Standing. These are full certificates signed by an Officer of Companies House. If WE order them, they will be posted directly to us and we can then certify them GENUINE.
3. Memorandum of Articles of Association
4. Annual Return
5. Preparing a Notarial Certificate confirming the Laws of England in relation to signing a Deed by a company according to Section 44 of the Companies Act.
6. Preparing a Notarial Certificate confirming the current Registered Directors and/or Company Secretary

Some companies during their life of trading incorporate company name changes and we can obtain as many Certificates of Incorporation of Change of Name as required to show the trail from past names to the present name.

So if you have a company which is expanding to trade internationally and need notarised company documents to submit to your intended foreign jurisdiction then we can help. If you receive instructions from overseas and are uncertain whether you fully understand what is required – we can help. Any company related documents that need notarising and/or legalising – we can help.

We have many years of experience in deciphering the requirements of foreign jurisdictions so do please get in touch if we can assist.

Just a reminder that our Notary Mr Christopher Atkinson has retired as a Solicitor and therefore does not have the usual problem of juggling busy solicitor’s a diary and also a Notarial practice to contend with. This means we can usually act without delay if matters are required to be dealt with urgently.

Remember, if you require our services or if you have any queries on any of the services that we offer then please so not hesitate to email us and

Or alternatively please telephone on 0113 8160116 or 07715608747. Please also feel free to visit our website

Theft of Houses and Land in England. Who Should Compensate the Innocent Buyer?

Theft of Houses and Land in England. Who Should Compensate the Innocent Buyer?

The ongoing story is about to reach its next chapter.

My earlier blogs are here if you want to read them again –
Links –

but to summarise, there is a continuing problem in England with land being “stolen”.

Ok you can’t actually steal a house. But since the abolition of the requirement for land deeds in England over 15 years ago, you can much more easily steal the value of a house.

Typically, your horrible criminal – hereinafter called HC – goes looking for a nice house that looks as if it is unoccupied long term. Or, he finds out who is in hospital long term and goes looking to see if their house is empty.

Next step (I hope you are not writing this down, it’s not intended to be a manual) is to pay £3.00 to the Land Registry online and have a look at the “Title”. Find out the name of the owner. OK, that’s who you will pretend to be. Have a look to see whether there is a mortgage – you want a house with no mortgage to repay, with no Bank to be involved.

OK, you’ve found yourself a nice house, owner absent, mortgage free. At this stage you might want to tell a locksmith you’ve locked yourself out, and get the locks changed. Now find a Solicitor who is a bit busy. Perhaps an “on-line” conveyancer who will be willing to deal with you without a meeting.

Get an estate agent to sell it for you – you can say you are moving to Dubai or anywhere and in a hurry, so you don’t mind if it gets a lowish price as long as it’s soon.

The next bit is rather too technical for me – you need to have a bank account or better still a chain of accounts, somewhere that the buyers’ money can be put into. And on the day of completion, that money goes in and you very quickly whisk it out and if you know what you are doing, you launder it through twenty more accounts and in and out of Macau and Nigeria and Venezuela and bye byes.

There is a suggestion that these sorts of fraud might be being set up by sophisticated crime rings internationally who actually recruit the HC. So if true, HC gets a smaller part of the stolen money paid to him later. And if HC should be caught by the police, he is the small fry who has taken the risks and he probably doesn’t even know where the big money has gone.

So that is what is going on. The question remaining, is what to be done about it?

A million pounds (say, a nice round number) has gone missing. Everyone except HC thought it was going to pay for a house. But since the actual owner is still in hospital or on the moon or somewhere, their house is actually nothing to do with it.

[Please keep up at the back – no-one has bought or sold a house here!]

The parties to the aftermath are –
1. HC, who has gone with the money
2. The innocent conveyancers instructed by HC (ICS)
3. The innocent Buyers (IB) who have paid, maybe borrowed a million from a bank and given it to their own innocent conveyancer
4. The innocent conveyancers instructed by IB. (ICB)

Obviously if the IB had dealt with their own conveyancing, they would say it should be ICS to reimburse them. ICS would say, Why should we – You are not our client?

Since IB had lawyers ICB acting for them, they think ICB should have protected them better. They actually don’t really care, they just want their stolen money back.

And as my blogs have shown, three recent cases on just this scenario have now been decided three different ways. In the case of Purrunsing, ICS and ICB had to pay half each, on the basis that each or either could have identified the fraud with a little more carefulness. (Could they really though?)

In P&P Properties, the judge was more robust. There he said, the thief HC targeted an innocent Buyer and he has stolen the innocent buyer’s money. End of. Wipe your eyes, that’s life

But then, in the case of Dreamvar, link here, the present position which is presumably therefore the law today, a judge came up with a third cunning plan. In this case, it was decided that it should be the innocent buyer’s solicitors who should pay back to their client everything that had been stolen.

And that decision was purported to be based upon a somewhat ingenious [far-fetched? Grasping at straws?] interpretation of the law of Trusts – that the purchase money was paid to the ICB “on trust” so that if it was paid to a crook [i.e., even though it was the crook that IB had instructed it should have been paid to] then there was a breach of that trust.

The more cynical viewer wonders whether the law of trusts really decided that case, or more a feeling that the ICB in that case was the very large international solicitors Mischon de Reya and that “they can afford it”.

Indeed the Court expressly said that any and all claims of negligence against Mischon de Reya were dismissed. They were NOT negligent

In any interpretation, the situation is a shambles and it seems to me that solicitors and conveyancers are currently playing a game of Russian roulette every time that they act in a house sale/purchase.

The latest instalment is that the courts will hear an appeal by Mischon de Reya in February 2018 and I await the judgment and will probably blog again when it is given.

This is an important case and the Law Society Gazette has reported – link here – that the Law Society seeks leave to intervene into it, arguing that public policy dictates that if the P&P decision is not the correct one, then the Solicitors acting unknowing for the fraudulent imposter, not the ones acting for the innocent Buyer, should be the liable parties ordered to pay compensation.

No real legal basis for that view either, in my opinion. Just making the best of a bad job. The bad job being as I see it, entirely caused by doing away with title deeds. Not that my opinion is going be requested by anyone, obviously.

Here’s a song about MONEY

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 or via the website


“Apostille” only please? On my Birth, Death or Marriage Certificate. No Problem. Louise Explains.

“Apostille” only please. On my Birth, Death or Marriage Certificate. No Problem. Louise Explains.

If you have been asked to obtain an Apostille on a GRO Birth, Death or Marriage Certificate then we can obtain this for you.

You may be requiring to obtain a foreign passport for a child born in England, or dealing with visa or other matters abroad.

If the foreign Country is a party to – i.e., has signed- the Hague Convention of 1961 then it will require an “Apostille” to be placed on a document which is to be relied upon.

I am sure there will be many people who do not know what an “Apostille” is – to explain to those people, in a nutshell it is a stamp issued by the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office and confirms that the signature of a named signatory on a document is genuine – whether that be of a Notary, Solicitor, Registrar etc…

In particular, the Apostille contains a unique number which is back-checkable on the internet.

So in the case of an English certificate, the Apostille is the British Government warrant to the foreign jurisdiction that the signatory is indeed who s/he purports to be.

The Apostille will be relied upon abroad because it is in effect an Insurance policy, protecting the foreign entities who rely upon it – the British public purse will cover any financial loss from anyone overseas relying.

If a foreign jurisdiction do not require any notarisation then this is fine – we can still obtain the Apostille for you – what this means is that instead of the Apostille warranting the Notary signature, the Apostille would be warranting the signing Registrar on the GRO certificate.

You can of course submit appropriate documents direct to the Foreign Office for Apostille in this event. However many of our clients prefer to drop the paperwork in to us, so that we can check it is in order and appropriate for the Foreign Office, and then have us deal with the Foreign Office on your behalf.

One example I can give as to why an Apostille might be required on a GRO Certificate is that of registering the birth of a baby who has been born in England however their parents are of Eastern European nationality and are required to register the Birth of the baby in their home country. Typically what is required is an “Apostille” to be placed upon the Birth Certificate of the baby. This can then be submitted to the foreign jurisdiction to register the Birth.

Another example is if you are planning to get married overseas – some foreign jurisdictions require an Apostille to be placed on the reverse of a GRO Certificate of No Impediment – again this confirms to the foreign jurisdiction that the signature of the Register on the certificate is genuine and can be relied upon and the foreign jurisdiction can be quite content that they are not marrying bigamists.

A further example is an “Apostille” may be required on a Death Certificate to prove to a foreign jurisdiction that the death of a person is genuine – so if there are assets to be sold and/or distributed then the foreign legal adviser can be sure of the fact that the death is genuine and can proceed with the legal formalities.

The list goes on but hopefully the examples above will give you a good idea why an Apostille only may be required and if you need help with this, then we can assist.

There are two services [timescales] of obtaining Apostilles:

1. Standard service – as at today’s date currently the Foreign Office are taking around 5 working days to return documents to us with Apostilles
2. Expedited Service – we can, using our Agents in London, obtain an Apostille by hand within 24 hours and get it back to our office in 48 hours.

In addition, we are FedEx Agents and can have your paperwork delivered by FedEx Courier to most places in the World for you.

Please do contact me whenever you need Notarial certification or an “Apostille” – at or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116)


Notarisation. Never a Dull Moment. No, Really.

Notarisation. Never a Dull Moment. No, Really.

No doubt there are those who imagine that the world and work of a Notary tends ever so slightly towards the enervative side of the tedium spectrum.

But I am here to tell you NO. Just like the wacky purviews of the Accountants and the Actuaries, a Notary’s work-load is an exciting daily roller-coaster ride of new and often baffling conundrums.

For this week, a reminder for this Notary that doing it the job “correctly” is no substitute for doing the job in a way in which it will be acceptable to the end user abroad. And that there is a difference between being knowledgeable, and being wise. Wise is better!

An example is that of the colour of ink to be used. As we are taught at Notary Nursery school, three countries in the world will reject out of hand the use of any colour or form of ink other than black fountain pen. [South Africa, Italy and Malaysia].

Since there is only one place which requires the use of Blue ink [Florida USA], it is easy enough therefore to use black ink for everything, with a blue pen on stand-by for Floridian documents.

So imagine the frisson of excitement and ruffled feathers in the Notarial World, when a document for Hungary has been rejected there, for use of Black Ink. The same black ink that Notaries have been submitting to Hungary for hundreds of years. NO, says the Hungarian nut-job “I WANT BLUE INK”

The reality for Hungary is that the old Civil Code has a section – incidentally now repealed – that requires signatures to be “visibly original”. Well whatever that phrase means, it surely cannot mean that a blue signature is necessarily original or a black one not visibly original, in this day and age of colour photocopies.

There is NO Hungarian prohibition on the use of black ink.

Notarial documents bear an impressed seal in any event so that the original document is not flat as a photocopy is flat. [Are there 3D photocopiers yet?]

Notarial Documents for use in Hungary bear the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Apostille, verifiable on the internet.

Every other Hungarian lawyer accepts black ink documents. So there are lots of good points to raise in argument. If you want an argument.

The point is though, that doing things right gets you only so far. The reality is that if a man in Hungary wants a document to be signed in Blue Ink, it is quicker and cheaper to – you guessed – sign it in Blue Ink.

So a knowledgeable Notary in England might pass his exams and do everything by the book and send a black ink document to Hungary and get them rejected, whilst a wise Notary will before starting work, ask the man in Hungary – what colour ink would you like?

And by the way, I may have lied about the exciting Actuaries.

And blue and black ink pens are available here so, as always, whenever you have documents to Notarise to use abroad, you can contact me or Louise here at AtkinsonNotary E7 Joseph’s Well Leeds LS3 1AB, phone 0113 8160116 and email or via the website


You Read It Here First. Check The Qualifications. Weed Out The Imposters.

You read it here first. Check The Qualifications. Weed out the imposters.

It is exactly one year ago that I wrote this Blog –Link Here – and sad to say, it hasn’t changed the World.

The gist of last year’s message was, don’t give a candidate a job just because they have a nice smile or they remind you of your favourite film star.

Don’t have a quick look at a Degree certificate or put the candidate’s letter of reference into the desk drawer, on the basis that you will check it later only if it turns out they are rubbish at the job.

Because, if you give a job to someone who is using fake papers, you may be held responsible if their incompetence causes loss or injury to your customers or others in the course of their employment.

The reality is, as I wrote last year and as the BBC have got around to reporting today, that there are liars about. Yes, really.

And the best liars will be those with the nicest smiles, possibly.

Here is the link to the BBC report –Link Here – – May I remark without being too smug that it adds little information to my year-old blog? –  Beyond making it clear that the problem of fake degrees is getting worse not better.

There is a big problem at the root of any system of learning and testing. What should be taught? How should a person’s understanding of what has been taught be tested? Who is qualified to mark the test?

Some areas of learning have a right and a wrong. Two plus two equals four.

But other areas – creative writing say, a bit harder. If a piece of text is submitted for an English language exam say, one examiner might decide it is first class. A wonderful exciting insightful story. A page-turner which they could not put down. First Class marks. But another examiner of the same piece of work might discount all that if it is full of spelling mistakes, split infinitives and incorrect punctuation. Marked grade E or even a fail.

And a candidate for a job writing instruction manuals intended for photocopier engineers to use, might not get the job if critics could say of his prose:-

“What punctuation there is has the effect not of assisting interpretation but of further breaking down any chain of meaning in the language…… instead ….  it operates as a kind of revolving door by which one both exits and enters the various semantic fields in the passage.” © Adrian Hunter writing about Samuel Beckett.

Beckett was one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century but obviously not a man to turn to when you want to be reminded how to change the toner cartridge. So does Beckett pass or fail?

So where does that leave a student with low or no grades, if ability or entitlement to a degree may be little more than the opinion of a particular examiner? Resentful, much?

So it is not too surprising that it seems that there is a huge market for fake degrees and diplomas. And whilst most may be purchased by frauds who never even went to school, that is not the whole market.

There are also those people who have worked extremely hard and feel cheated by their lower degree or failure. They may feel that the examiners have let them down and that they deserved to pass, or to get a first class award. It may be that a person works in an Industry and knows s/he is better able to do a job than a higher paid colleague, but the colleague has been given the job because they have a degree.

Which may be why there is such a huge market for fake degrees. A real degree can be the passport to secure and high-income employment. Therefore, so can a fake one. If it looks real enough and no-one has asked a Notary to investigate it.

Just for fun, google this

“Where can I buy a fake degree in UK?”

Yes, over 29 million results.

So, it seems that there may be more fake degrees certificates issued than real ones.

Not every person who has felt tempted to purchase a fake degree has a self-image as a fraudster. But here’s the reality – It is dishonest and you can go to jail.

What does seem to be interesting now is that the criminals who sell these false certificates, have a second string to their bow:- You are Mr ABC, and you have bought a degree in Engineering from the University of NotaPlace. Mr Crim knows who you are. In a couple of years, he sees Mr ABC is a Lecturer in Engineering at the British University of Somewherereal.

Next thing, Mr ABC is threatened by the criminals with exposure to the Police and his employers unless large sums are paid. Blackmail and extortion – Today and forever.

It’s a naughty World out there, so keep yourself as safe as you can, check everything once, check it again, and then ask me to Notarise it!

This week’s song – Link here for New Job –

And as ever – our message to you is, for documents for use around the world as well as educational certificates for use in England, do contact me or Louise Morley here at AtkinsonNotary E7 Joseph’s Well Leeds LS3 1AB, phone 0113 8160116 and email or via the website


How To Convince The Land Registry That You Are Not An Imposter. Or, How To Protect The Land Registry. Form ID1.

How To Convince The Land Registry That You Are Not An Imposter. Or, How To Protect The Land Registry. Form ID1.

I have blogged a few times now, about the consequences of the decision of the Government that the Land Registry must do away with “Title Deeds” as evidence of Land ownership, after October 2003.

Here are some of those blogs, – read and weep. –Link Here –  – And Here –  – And Here-

It does seem to me that the Land Registry has abandoned a system based on paper – or sometimes parchment if not actual vellum [google it!] – for systems based upon computerisation more for reasons of appearing to be “up to date” than for any actual good purpose.

Because a fraudster is not going to be able to persuade a purchaser that he is the owner of land to which he holds no title deeds, if title deeds are necessary to prove ownership.

But since the abolition of the need for title deeds, all a fraudster has to do is to pretend to be the real owner of the land. This is of course still difficult but it is a whole lot easier than it used to be.

Hence the rise in frauds.

There have been many frauds when unwitting solicitors have been instructed to act. And as the cases which I have blogged about show, when those frauds have come to light, the solicitors have usually been made to pay all the compensation.

And because the solicitors have done nothing wrong, the Courts have been inconsistent, sometimes ordering the fraudster’s solicitor to pay, sometimes ordering the honest party’s solicitor to pay, and sometimes ordering the money payment to be split between them. The inconsistency arises because there is in truth no moral reason why either firm of solicitors should pay, so it is necessarily all a bit random, however the judges have tried to dress it up in veneer of logic.

And thus generally no Government department usually loses out when this kind of fraud takes place if there are solicitors involved to carry the can.

Therefore we can understand the concern of the Land Registry when a transaction is put forward for registration, where one or other of the parties has acted for themselves without a Solicitor involved.

No whipping boy, oh dear oh dear, it may think.

And hence their requirement of form ID1, [Identity 1] to accompany every land transaction worth over £6000 where a party acts for themselves.

In an attempt to make sure that any fraud will be underwritten by a professional insurance policy, the Land Registry ask all Buyers and Sellers of land who have done their own conveyancing to go see a suitable professional person and get that person to certify their identities.

Then of course if A is pretending to be B, sells B’s house and runs away, the person who identified him on Form ID1 to be B, and who has not run away, is in a spot of bother.

Now there are people who don’t like using Solicitors, so it must seem to them to be a bit of a catch 22 if in order not to use Solicitors when buying or selling land, they have to go and see a Solicitor anyway.

And it is a bit odd, to ask a Solicitor to do this. The role of a Solicitor is to act for a Client. If a Solicitor acts carelessly then that Solicitor must compensate C.

Traditionally, the only person to whom a Solicitor is liable is C. Or, if he botches the writing of a Will for C, he may be liable to C’s intended beneficiaries. But that is it. There is no concept that a Solicitor is liable to the whole wide world for the consequences of his or her mistakes.

So in the worst case can the Land registry actually sue a negligent or fooled Solicitor when all he has done is unwittingly fill in a form ID1 for a crook: – but who is not acting for the Land Registry, who has no contract with the Land Registry, who is not even being paid by the Land Registry? I really wonder.

Properly, it’s a job for a Notary. Just to say, you can come see me instead. Notaries are in the business of authentication and the authentication of identity is number one on our list of what we do all day. And we –Notaries – are liable to compensate anyone who loses out by relying upon our certificates.

There’s a song about it. – If you want to know who we are – Link Here –

And as ever – our message to you is, for documents for use around the world as well as forms ID1 in England, do contact me or Louise Morley here at AtkinsonNotary E7 Joseph’s Well Leeds LS3 1AB, phone 0113 8160116 and email or via the website