Tuesday 12 August 2008

Does anyone know?

Here's a quick question for practitioners (two actually, but one is a bit rhetorical): is a Power of Attorney, drafted overseas in a foreign language and intended to be of effect in that foreign country, but signed in this country before an English solicitor, a foreign document or a UK one for apostille purposes? And is there any serious justification for getting documents apostilled in this day and age?


  1. Based on my practice experience, my understanding is as follows:

    If the document is a foreign document it should be duly notarized and legalized in the country from which the document came. The document is then valid for use in another Hague convention signatory country. In certain jurisdictions it will then need to be attested at the relevant consulate or embassy.

    For example, an Irish company would need its articles and memorandum to be notarised by an Irish notary, then legalized by the Department of Foreign Affairs in Ireland (they check the notary is on their list of verified notaries, in Ireland).

    So in your example, the document could not be legalized in the UK – to obtain legalization (and be apostilled) it MUST be signed by a notary in the UK. But in the first place a UK notary would not notarise the document in the UK as it is not of origin in this country. Therefore it cannot be legalized for use in other jurisdictions.

    I hope that makes some sense. Out of interest, which country is the document from?

  2. Jeremy - you are a real lawyer making what is an everyday procedure for patent and trademark agents sound complicated by asking whether the power is a foreign document or an English one. Its a UK document because it has been executed in the UK. See the Foreign and Commenwealth Office site . Accordingly it needs to go to the Foreign office for an Apostille. Depending on your country it may need more legalization. Blair Consular Services is a great provider of assistance in this respect. Once upon a time trainees would beat the streets of the diplomatic zone but they are too expensive now.

    As to your second question our good friends at WIPO with their diligent work on the Trademark Law Treaty which is in force and the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks which is not but the UK should ratify soon, have sought to get countries to prohibit the requirement of certification for trademark documents. See Article 8(4)in the TLT.

  3. 'And is there any serious justification for getting documents apostilled in this day and age?'

    What apart from as a revenue generating exercise?