Notarization of the documents and signature verification
Nowadays, business documents play a crucial role in many ways. Business consists not only of contracts, but also of special corporate documents, aimed to make changes in corporate structure. Overall, documents are necessary to provide proof or support for certain facts or actions.
Therefore, if an action is not written down in a document, it can be very difficult to prove that the action had happened at all. However, there are several issues that may arise in this regard – if documents are forged and the actual action did not happen, it can be very complicated to prove the opposite. That is why it is necessary to notarize corporate documents for specific actions – it works as a protection for company, since it is much more difficult to forge documents, which must be notarized.
The notarization of the document implies that an official, i.e. notary, approves that a certain person signs the document. The notary will identify the person signing the document and add a notary seal with notarial certificate to the document. In this way, any third party can rely on the fact that the signature of the document is real, not forged. This service is known as a ‘notarized signature’. Nevertheless, you must be aware of a risk that signing party can be unaware of the document’s content.
One of the additional/possible (it depends on the company) services that can be provided, is a notarization of a document’s content. In this case not only the signing party is officially identified by the notary, but also the content of the document has been explained to the signer by notary. If the content of the document is notarized, other persons can be assured that the signer is fully aware of what he has signed. However, this service is more expensive, complicated and time-consuming, thus in many jurisdictions it is not widely spread.
Confidus Solutions may assist you with notarizing signatures or documents: we have contacts of public notaries and we can help you make an appointment at the required time, as well as prepare your documents in full compliance with notary’s requirements. Contact us now to make an appointment at the notary’s bureau.
Application of the verified signatures and notarized documents
Every jurisdiction has requirements that concern defined corporate documents, which must be notarized in order to have a recognition and legal effect. Notarization is necessary for multiple reasons: to protect companies from risk of raiding. Raiding – is a fraud, when a third party, using forged corporate documents or other illegal methods, submits corporate changes to the public registry to illegally benefit from taking over the assets of the company.
Normally, notarization is mandatory for corporate documents when a company is being founded. Subsequent changes in shareholders or in the board of directors are made when a company changes its articles of association.
Often, the following corporate documents must be notarized:
- Memorandum of association;
- Articles of association;
- List of shareholders;
- Declaration of directors;
- Declaration of trust.
Usually, state-owned companies in many countries are fully exempt from notarization.
Digital signature and online verification
Handling documents in digital form is a gradually ascending tendency. For the digital document to have legal effect - it must be signed with a digital signature. Digital signature has the same legal standing as a handwritten signature. In some countries it also replaces notarization requirements.
This type of signature has its advantages and flaws. It is obvious that documents can be processed much faster and cheaper, since it is not necessary to notarize them. However, every state has its own special requirements for digital signature in order to be valid. It means that documents, which are signed with digital signature in one jurisdiction, can be invalid in another.
Overall, digital signature becomes frequently used in European countries. Estonia is a great example of this digitalization process. First digital signature services in Estonia were available back in year 2002. Since then, the digital signature has improved greatly and since year 2014, Estonia has granted access to a digital identity to everyone, regardless of their citizenship or residency.
Apostille as an international document verification form
Although a notarization can make documents completely legal and recognizable, the notarization can be insufficient to be recognized in other states. That happens, because every jurisdiction recognizes its own public power, and not that of other states. In cases, when a document must be notarized in order to be used in another jurisdiction - an apostille certificate can help and make document valid in a foreign state.
Apostilles are certifying the authenticity of the signature and the identity of the notary’s seal or stamp on the document. Just like a notarized signature, the apostille does not relate to the content of the document itself. It is also important to keep in mind that apostilles authenticate the signatures and seals only on public documents – documents that are issued by a public authority, e.g., birth certificates, marriage certificates, public university diplomas, medical documents, etc.
Only states that are parties of the Apostille Convention recognize apostilles. Overall, the convention was signed by 112 countries. Among them were such countries as: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, France, Germany, Poland, Norway, Latvia and others. For the documents issued by the European Union authorities apostille is not mandatory, however, sometimes apostille is required, for example, by banks to approve good standing of the company.
Confidus Solutions can help you to prepare all documents in compliance with local notary requirements. We may also help you with acquiring local apostille Certificate for your public documents. Call our lawyers now!