What is Notarial Work?
Notarial work primarily deals with the preparation and verification of legal documents for use abroad. This may be the endorsement of documents prepared by foreign lawyers for you, or (subject to review and approval by a lawyer in the foreign jurisdiction) the preparation of appropriate documents by us.
Notaries are recognised internationally as being independent and trained to verify documents, witness their due execution and certify other facts, and so a notary’s verification is normally a vital step. Most notaries in England & Wales are also solicitors, but the functions are separate. Our solicitors offer a wide range of other business and personal legal services through our main practice which is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Most foreign countries require a further verification of the notary by the British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). This is known as an ‘apostille’. Many then require a further endorsement from their own embassy or consulate. This whole process is known as ‘legalisation’ and we can arrange it for you.
Unless they are specifically asked to do so, notaries will not advise you on the suitability of the documents you ask them to notarise, or the merits of any transaction the documents relate to. It’s up to you to take appropriate professional advice so that you understand the meaning and implications of the documents you are signing, and to be satisfied that the transactions you are entering into are in your best interests. We may be able to provide that service on request, although we don’t advise on foreign law (but may be able to introduce an appropriate lawyer from our international network).
What Can We Notarise?
As public notaries, we deal with all kinds of documents for use abroad , including transfers of property, powers of attorney, contracts, verification of documents and transactions, witnessing and verifying the signature of documents and the making of declarations.
We provide all services subject to our standard terms and conditions of business. These include a limitation of liability on our part.
Timescales for work
We will usually be able to deal with our part of the notarial process within an agreed timescale or otherwise reasonably promptly, subject to receiving clear and correct instructions and documents. The time taken for provision of an apostille and legalisation depends on the FCDO, foreign embassies or consulates. This depends on their workloads and availability of resources and is not within our control. We usually use agents to deal with them as this tends to be quicker. An apostille typically takes about 7-10 days. For further legalisation the time taken by foreign embassies or consulates is hugely variable depending on the country in question and can take from a few days to several months.
Our fees are normally based on the time taken to deal with the matter, normally charged at £290 per hour plus vat. Expenses such as apostille and legalisation fees, and agent costs are recharged at cost. We may be able to quote a fixed fee where the scope of the work is known and clearly defined. Estimates are given on the basis that documentation, information and instructions supplied to us are correct and complete, and that you have read and understood them before you meet with us to deal with them. We will normally need to see all the documents involved before we give an estimate or fixed price. The cost of apostilles and legalisation is set by the FCDO, embassies and consulates (normally on a per document basis), is outside our control and is subject to change without notice.
Our notarial work is regulated through the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury. We currently carry £15 million of professional indemnity insurance cover although this may be subject to change without notice.
We provide a complaints process (details of which are on our website here or available on request by post, telephone (01244 405555) or by email to [email protected]) under which if we cannot resolve any dissatisfaction you may refer to the Notaries Society which has an approved complaints procedure, and if that is unsuccessful then to the Legal Ombudsman.
If you are a consumer and have contracted with us (other than at a meeting at our office) to carry out work for you then you have a right to cancel the contract before we start the work, by giving us notice in writing within 14 days of entering into the contract.
At Aaron & Partners, we offer notary services in Chester (and Shrewsbury by arrangement), with our skilled team just a phone call away. If you have any unanswered queries please call us on 01244 405555 and we’ll be happy to explain more. For more information on other methods of contacting us, then please go to the ‘Contact Us’ page on our website.