Power of Attorney and other Deeds for use in Foreign Countries

Power of Attorney and other Deeds for use in Foreign Countries

Probably the work we are asked to assist with more than anything else is the witnessing of the execution of Deeds of Power of Attorney.

It’s not surprising really. We are in Leeds, our clients are local, and they want to complete transactions abroad.

Realistically, unless you can afford the time and money which you would have to invest in going to the foreign country, and staying there until all of the necessary paperwork has been prepared and completed, you will have to appoint someone else to do the paperwork for you.

Usually, that will be a lawyer qualified and working in the foreign Country concerned.

Otherwise, it may be a friend of yours there , a relative, or a business partner .

Either way, you will have to execute a paper authorising that person to act on your behalf. “Execute” means in this context, sign it in the presence of a Notary Public .

Typical problems we come across on a regular basis include:-

The foreign party give a vague instruction to our client along the lines of “just sign a letter of authority”. Yeah, right.

If you go down this road, expect them to respond in due course along “Your letter of Authority is nearly right. But we can’t use it because ……..”

Really the best advice I can give is that if you are told from abroad to “just sign a short letter of authority” then you should say – Please draft the wording you need me to sign.

That way, your Turkish, Afghan, whatever agent must produce the form of authority which they require. And if they later say – “oh it’s not quite right” for any reason at all, then you are perfectly justified in saying – “Well, we signed the form you sent us, so if it’s not right, ok, but you will have to pay the wasted fees”.

There are many many rules and wrinkles which we in AtkinsonNotary are well aware of.

For Example, for Spain, sign each page. For Florida and California and India and Zimbabwe and South Africa, you need two witnesses as well as the Notary.

In Italy and South Africa, if you do not use black ink, your document will be rejected however correct it may otherwise be. Conversely, in Florida, you should use blue ink. Yes, I know.

And once the paperwork is correctly executed in England there is the question of legalisation.

For most countries of the world, a Foreign and Commonwealth Apostille is necessary. We can get this.

For many countries, the Apostille is not enough. For example, UAE will also require a consular stamp and currently a fee of £500.00 if there is a commercial aspect to the case.

There is increasingly a tendency for the Consular offices of different Countries to apply their own somewhat random rules.

China will need a certified copy of the passports of the signatories. And of the passport of a Company Director if any Company is the subject of the notarisations. It has recently decided to request two additional separate application forms to accompany each stamp application.

Bolivia needs every non-Spanish language document to be accompanied with a translation into Spanish, and the Consulate will charge for each. It is cheaper therefore to ensure that each Bolivian paper is written in two columns, one column being the Spanish text.

The Dominican Republic needs a Spanish translation or else the Consulate will prepare a translation and charge you for it.

Angola needs all of the above and will still reject the document if the translated languages are sewn into the document in the wrong order, – The Portuguese text must always appear first.

So there you are. It’s easy if you know what to do. [And we do] And it’s impenetrably difficult if you don’t.

What can I say? Come to AtkinsonNotary and we will sort your documents. First time, no hassle. Honestly, you will thank us for it. See the testimonials on the AtkinsonNotary website, and our Google reviews. Every one 5 star. [Tempting fate? I hope not].

Well if we don’t blow our own trumpet, who will?

So the song this week – In a Foreign Land.

As always, Please do contact me or Louise whenever you need Notarial certification or Legalisation for your Documents– at http://www.atkinsonnotary.com – or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116)


We Can Certify Company Papers.

We can certify your Company Papers.

As a Notary in England assisting Companies with interests abroad, I have a fund of cases which highlight the problems which can arise in certifications for use in foreign Countries.

L. P. Hartley said – “the past is a different country, they do things differently there”

Well AtkinsonNotary can certainly tell you, that a foreign Country is a foreign country, and Eee by gum they do things differently there.

Perhaps the biggest disconnection between the UK Company Culture and that of other countries, might be between us and former Eastern Bloc countries, in respect of the matter of Companies House recorded information.

In former Soviet Russia and its satellites, the State required to know and authorise everything. So, the State would be in a position at any time to say who were the authorised Directors of a Company.

And to say, whether the Company has a licence here and an accreditation there.

To Say, whether the Company has a recorded criminal conviction.

To say, whether or not the Company has paid all tax due and to issue a certificate that it has. 

To say, whether a company is insolvent.

The idea that this is possible remains the mind-set in these countries.

Contrast and compare. Some of the above can be easily ascertained from Companies House in England. But, much of it cannot.

For example the suggestion that the English tax office will issue a certificate that ABC Limited has paid all taxes due from it up to date – is a non-runner. Quite the opposite in fact, the HMRC reserve the right to investigate a Companies Tax affairs retrospectively after many years.

And yet, if you are putting in a tender for work in Poland, you will be asked to provide such unobtainable certification.

A second example. In many foreign States, application is made to the State for the right to become a Director. The State approved you, and you are appointed. So, the State will always know the names of the Directors of a Company.

In England, the Company decides who it will appoint as Director. And once it has done so, those persons are Directors. And then Companies House should be told. But if the Company Secretary takes ages to tell Companies House then it won’t know. But the Directors are still the Directors.

The situation therefore is that Companies House here in England is not the source of authority, but in effect is merely an office which records what it has been told. Re-active, not proactive.

Recently, Companies House has decided to discontinue revealing the information it has as to the holders of a Company’s shares. This is a problem when the bureaucrats of, say, Azerbaijan are demanding certification of the identities of the company’s shareholders and the number and value of shares held. Sometimes the only information available is to be found from Company returns which may be over a year old.

This is the kind of anomaly which can be warranted and explained and “made all right” by a thorough Notarial Certification. We are here to help.

At AtkinsonNotary we are subscribers to Companies House Direct which is a paid-for service, rather than the free Companies House website. The latter whilst increasingly reliable has in my experience occasionally revealed gaps in Company narrative. The paid service also enable instant ordering of certificates from Companies House when available.

In respect of Companies House certificates, I would seek to suggest to Company secretaries that when these are required to be obtained and Notarised, it will save you time and money if you ask me to Contact Companies House to obtain them direct.

It will save time because I can order them within minutes of your contact and receive them the following day.

It will save money because, having ordered the Certificate and received it direct from Companies House, there is no need for me to contact Companies House to ensure that the certificate received is genuine, as I would otherwise be required to do. [Not that I don’t trust you, mind!]

For wrestling with foreign Company requirements, and for documents for use around the world do contact me or Louise here at AtkinsonNotary E7 Joseph’s Well Leeds LS3 1AB, phone 0113 8160116 and email notary@atkinsonnotary.com or via the website http://www.atkinsonnotary.com

VAT. Don’t Go, It’s Interesting.

VAT. No, Don’t Stop Reading. It’s Interesting! Sort of.

The thing about VAT, as far as I can see, is that only those few people who say they understand it are really confused.

The rest of us are bang on. We don’t understand it, and there it is.

When we are buying stuff for ourselves, it’s not really a problem. We are charged a sum usually inclusive of VAT and we pay it and that’s that.

It’s harder when we buy for our business. Sometimes the Vat we pay can be reclaimed. We by and large leave that to accountants, because one thing that is easy to understand is that it’s complicated.

The hardest part comes when we are a VAT registered business and involved in sales – particularly sales of services.

Take at random, a Solicitor selling Conveyancing expertise. Vat Registered, so you probably issue an agreed quotation which includes the VAT upon it.

If the price of the house your client has bought is £1,000,000.00 they pay a hefty stamp duty land tax, but no VAT on that million. Unless, say, the house is sold on the basis of a planning user restricting occupation in winter, as on some holiday park sites.

Then VAT will be charged.

Ooops no, as you will all remember, that changed in 2015, when the relevant Tax tribunal decided that VAT would still be payable if the planning authority said the restriction was because the building was a holiday home, but the building would be exempt from VAT if the restriction was imposed for no stated reason at all.

Also some commercial buildings are bought and sold where the option to treat the building as VAT exempt has not been taken up. In that case, full Stamp Duty Land Tax is chargeable on top of the building price and by gosh, VAT is then chargeable upon that total. Yes sir, tax is charged on the tax.

So that’s clear then

For more information on the above, read it again. I’ve got nothing.

So what’s new for the solicitor this week in the wacky world of VAT?

One question which Solicitors thought had been resolved years ago, relates to the money they have to pay out to do the job. Obviously they have to pay for premises, computers, office cleaners etc, those are general overheads.

But also in order to do the job right, they have to pay out money specifically, in relation to the particular job for the particular client.

For example, the cost of the stamps on the letters they write in relation to that job. [Remember letters? In the post?] Also, fees they pay to the Land registry.

Now in those cases, if a pound is paid for a stamp, then the solicitors account should be charging the client a pound for the stamp, yes? Not a pound plus VAT equals One pound twenty pence? That seems straight forward and the same goes for Land Registry Fees.

One other thing the Solicitor must do is purchase a “Local Search”. These are not cheap. They are directed to Local Councils, to find out whether the house has the necessary permissions even to exist, Water search to see where the drains and pipes are and who is responsible if they go wrong, searches for listed buildings, National parks, forthcoming road schemes and lots more. Often the Solicitors will make an environmental search, to tell you how near you are to the local atomic waste silos. Or landfill sites anyway.

And it is settled, as the Law Society has confirmed to Solicitors, that the cost of obtaining the search can be passed on to the client and no VAT need be charged. Because the client could have purchased the searches themselves and brought them in to the Solicitor. So, the rationale is that the Solicitor is adding value to the transaction, by studying and interpreting the search result once they are on the desk, not by buying them for the client.

Well, that’s wrong. It used to be right but this week, it’s wrong. As I said, searches are not cheap and a firm of lawyers Brabners over three years has spent and charged clients roughly £340,000.00 to purchase searches.

Between them those client have paid to Brabners £340,000.00 to reimburse them. Brabners have not made a penny by buying the searches and the taxman has received nothing, and that is all correct, as the Law Society and every other solicitor supposed.

Until this Tribunal decision, that is. –Link Here – . Seems Brabners should have charged 20% on top of the price of each search and handed it over to the HMRC. £68,000.00. Bad news for Brabners.

But presumably, the HMR&C now will be looking at every firm of Solicitors in due course. How many of them will have charged VAT on the cost of the searches they have bought, what with the Law Society having told them that would be wrong?

So if you are not a solicitor, nor running a service business registered for VAT, I hope you have passed a pleasant few moments reading this and are glad you don’t have to cope with this sort of stuff on a daily basis or at all.

But if things are otherwise, then things are different. The Solicitors’ profession and the Law Society and their Accountants are all watching this case with interest – appeals will follow.

All a bit different these days, from Bob Dylan’s imagined world:-

© “My daddy he made whiskey, my granddaddy he did too
We ain’t paid no whiskey tax since 1792”

Here’s the song, Joan Baez in 1965 – Link Here –

And as ever, for documents for use around the world do contact me or Louise here at AtkinsonNotary E7 Joseph’s Well Leeds LS3 1AB, phone 0113 8160116 and email notary@atkinsonnotary.com or via the website http://www.atkinsonnotary.com


Urban Myth? Or Exploding Houses? Or Worse? The Internet Of Things. Scary Stuff.

Urban Myth? Or Exploding Houses? Or Worse? The Internet Of Things. Scary Stuff.

Does it appear to you that every new day seems to provide news of scary problems with technology?

So far as I can tell [from anecdotal evidence admittedly] the chief reason in England for the slow take-up of “smart” gadgets and particularly smart energy meters – see DT Link here –  is because folk believe rightly or perhaps rightly, that there will be no advantage for them over the traditional meter which needs to be read. Or worse, that the new kit will make mistakes.

When the new gadget is just a box linked to a telephone, who knows what information it is sending or with what accuracy?

But perhaps a better reason for a slow take-up, might be the warnings to be found everywhere you google it, that the things are easy pickings for hackers.

Exploding house anyone? –Link Here-  and – Link here –

Who is building these things anyway?

Do you suspect that the best hardware and software engineers perhaps prefer a career with Apple or Microsoft or Google, rather than British Gas?   Don’t sue me, it’s a joke.

But anyway, here’s a link to a lad of 13 who has hacked Microsoft and Google. –Link Here –  So if those two companies employ the finest minds in the World, and can get hacked, why would you fill your house with electronics that are less safe than unsafe computers? And if a 13 year old can hack in, imagine what a four year old can do.

Anyway, never mind that, this is an advisory [advisory? Is that a noun these days?] published by US certificators accredited by Homeland Security – Link Here – .

Yes, the plot of Homeland, Series One where the President’s heart pacemaker was stopped by his assassin using a mobile phone, seems to be a thing.

Happy Hallowe’en.

And as you know, 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 notary@atkinsonnotary.com or via the website http://www.atkinsonnotary.com



Proof of Life – sounds like the title of a Thriller movie!

Proof of Life – sounds like the title of a Thriller movie! In fact it is a Notary Thing. Louise Morley Explains …

Here at AtkinsonNotary we see many clients who have foreign pensions and have been requested by the foreign jurisdiction to produce a “proof of life” certificate duly notarised.

What this means is that the Notary is confirming that the client is still alive and is able to carry on claiming his/her pension.

The main reason for the Pension trustees to require this is that there are fraudsters in the world who could quite possibly take on the identity of a deceased person who had been collecting a pension and carry on claiming after the rightful beneficiary’s death.

This is obviously wrong but unfortunately there are fraudsters in this world! Who knew?

So the process is that a “proof of life” has to be issued – depending on the foreign jurisdiction this can be requested once every three months, once every six months or even once a year.

Don’t worry though – if you need a Proof of Life certificate then the process to see the Notary is very simple – an appointment can be made very easily and you would need to attend with identification documents. The Notary will then check your identification document and complete a certificate to warrant to the foreign jurisdiction that you are alive and still entitled to collect your pension from England.

Here is a report from 2012 which refers to English pensions fraud. –Link Here-

It doesn’t seem that things have tightened up if these links are any guide –Link Here – – And Here-

But a swift Google search indicates what might be a record – a Japanese lady now 86 has been claiming her parents’’ pension for the past 50 years. Wow. -Link Here-
If you are a Pensions trustee, food for thought perhaps. Use a Notary and you may not be singing this song. –Link Here –

As ever, for documents for use around the world do contact me or Chris Atkinson here at AtkinsonNotary E7 Joseph’s Well Leeds LS3 1AB, phone 0113 8160116 and email notary@atkinsonnotary.com or via the website http://www.atkinsonnotary.com


Documents For India Need Notarisation? Louise Helps You Through The Maze

Documents For India Need Notarization? Louise Helps You Through The Maze.

A high percentage of my workload relates to documentation prepared for clients with Indian connections. Typically this will be paperwork relating to Powers of Attorney or to the Administration of the Indian Estates of deceased relatives.

If there were only one message I could give, 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.

Typical mistakes include the following:
1. Drafting the Deeds yourself.
2. Failure to Witness as required
3. Failure to Notarise
4. Failure to legalise

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 Deeds Yourself.

Christopher Atkinson has been a Notary for over Twenty Two years and we have a copy of every Indian Power of Attorney that he has 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, or even if we draft it for you, most probably 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 who appear to be willing to countersign as the “Notary” witness on Indian Deeds. This is ALWAYS WRONG. A Solicitor who is not also a Notary, is not accepted in India as an appropriate Certifier 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. Also we have written other blogs on the subject, if you use the index on our website searching for “India” or “Apostille”.

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 the Notary.

And do not do what we have sometimes seen. A client with a Deed for India requiring two witnesses and the notary, brings us a document already signed by two friends, who do not appear with him at our office.

“What are those signatures?” We ask – reply, – “those are the witnesses! They can’t get time off work, so they signed it last night, ready for me to sign with you today!”

No really, we have seen this several times.

There are so 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 Mr Atkinson here at AtkinsonNotary E7 Joseph’s Well Leeds LS3 1AB, phone 0113 8160116 and email notary@atkinsonnotary.com or via the website www.atkinsonnotary.com

Government Ignores Your Input. Surprised? New Probate Fees.

Government Ignores Your Input. Surprised? New Probate Fees.

Here is a link to my Blog a year ago. Probate, How Much Would You Like To Pay?

In Brief, The Government invited you to respond to its consultation as to whether you think an increase in Probate fees from, at their highest, £430 today [for a couple dying together, or one shortly after the other] to a new sum of £40,000.00, was about right.

Yes, seriously, the new fees will be more than 9300% of the old ones. Nine thousand three hundred per cent. This is not a bad dream, though it’s not a good one either.

The new scales are
• £300 for estates worth more than £50,000 and up to £300,000
• £1,000 for estates worth more than £300,000 and up to £500,000
• £4,000 for estates worth more than £500,000 and up to £1 million
• £8,000 for estates worth more than £1m and up to £1.6 million
• £12,000 for estates worth more than £1.6m and up to £2 million
• £20,000 for estates worth more than £2 million

As I said , This is after consultation.
So, clearly, the general public thought that the increased fees are a jolly good thing.

Actually, not exactly, no.

The results are here LINK

What do we see? – Out of 829 responses as to whether the fee for probate should be proportionate to the estate value? Bearing in mind that the actual work done, and the cost of it, is not proportionate to the estate value, not surprisingly,:-

695 said – No, it makes no sense.

So in the context of a referendum, the vote for the status quo, the “remain” vote if you like, was over 75%.

Over 75 per cent.

With 71 responses abstaining, the vote for changing the status quo was:-

7%. Seven percent.

So there you are, the Government ask for consultation. Their proposals are overwhelmingly rejected – let me rephrase that – are supported by 7%, and will proceed.

Makes you proud, innit. Can’t Afford to Live, Can’t Afford to Die. Song Link here

As ever, do contact me or Christopher Atkinson here at AtkinsonNotary [0113 816 0116 or notary@atkinsonnotary.com or www.atkinsonnotary.com ] where we shall be more than happy to assist and help you through the maze whenever you have paperwork to be processed for foreign countries.