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Lesley Fairclough is a Notary Public. This means she acts as an impartial and legally trained witness to authenticate and certify the execution of documents intended for use outside the UK. Her signature and seal is recognised as evidence of a responsible legal officer in most countries of the world. Lesley has been a qualified Notary Public since 2010.


Why do I need a Notary Public?

When it comes to business transactions or personal matters with an international dimension, the services of a Notary Public are usually required. The signing of documents before a Notary Public gives the documents recognised legal status in the country concerned.

What service does a Notary Public offer?

As a qualified Notary Public based in Ward Hadaway’s Newcastle office, Lesley can help with a wide range of matters including:

  • Authenticating personal documents for immigration or emigration purposes, or to apply to marry or to work abroad
  • Preparing and witnessing powers of attorney for use overseas
  • Purchase or sale of land and property abroad
  • The administration of the estates of people who are abroad, or who die owning property abroad
  • Authenticating company and business documents for overseas transactions
Can’t a ‘normal’ lawyer deal with these things?

No. A Notary Public is an independent public official, subject to separate professional rules and standards. Whilst a lawyer can be a Notary Public, they need to have obtained additional qualifications and are separately accredited.

How much does it cost for Notarial services?

Costs depend on a number of factors, including the type of service required, the type and number of documents involved and for which countries they are needed. In most cases, Lesley can agree a fixed fee for services in advance, giving you real cost certainty.

Do I need to come to your offices to access Notarial services?

Notarial services must always be carried out face-to-face. Whilst most clients come to our offices, Lesley can arrange to come out to your business premises if that would be more convenient for you. She can also arrange to see most clients at short notice, if required, or even outside normal business hours.

I need a Notary Public for personal documents. What do I need to do?

To arrange for your document to be notarised you will need to:

  • Contact Lesley to make an appointment
  • Email a brief summary of the transaction and the document(s) to be notarised in advance for review and comment. Please check these documents carefully before sending for errors such as spelling mistakes, incorrect addresses or wrong name, passport or phone number
  • Provide contact details for the foreign lawyer or authority at whose request you are undertaking this matter along with any documents received in relation to the matter
  • Bring ID documents, valid forms of ID include:
    • Current valid passport
    • Photo driving licence and
    • A bank statement or utility bill not more than 3 months old to confirm your current home address
  • Demonstrate that you understand the content and effect of the document(s) to be notarised
  • Sign the document in Lesley’s presence and sometimes before a further witness
I need a Notary Public for business documents. What do I need to do?

When acting for a business client, evidence of the status and authority of the person representing the business entity is required. This may mean that one or more of the following documents will be needed:

  • Extract from the Register held at Companies House
  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Latest report and audited accounts
  • Certified copy of Board Minutes
  • Certified copy of Partnership Agreement
  • Evidence of being regulated by a regulatory body, such as the Law Society

In addition to the above, each individual signatory will need to produce the individual ID documents as mentioned above.

What is Legalisation? What is an Apostille?

The Notarial Certificate will be signed and sealed in respect of your documentation, however the process is not always finished. For each Notarial document, the receiving country will also check:

  • That the document meets its own requirements in form and content; and
  • That it has been properly signed and certified by a qualified Notary Public.

The only way the receiving Authorities/Officers can check whether the Notary concerned is in fact a qualified Notary and the signature and seal is really his/hers is by the process called Legalisation.

In the simplest terms, Legalisation is the receiving country asking the Government of the sending country to confirm the document is in order and can be accepted and relied upon, by them providing confirmation that the signature and seal of the Notary is genuine.

Although Legalisation/the affixing of the “Apostille” is the last step in the process, it is, in some ways the most critical. It is Lesley’s job as your Notary to make sure that the document or transaction with which you are concerned is going to be effective in the country intended.

Different Countries have different rules about this. Any of the following could apply:

  • No Legalisation
    Some Countries are happy to rely on documents received and do not even ask about their authenticity or the qualification of the Notary. These tend to be countries that are or have been members of the British Commonwealth/British Empire. Most of these will accept an English Notary’s signature and seal without further enquiry.
  • The Apostille
    The Apostille is a separate piece of white paper, less than A4 size that is glued to the back of the Notarial Certificate, usually somewhere close to the Notaries Seal. This will include the signature and seal of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on behalf of the British Government. This is normally required by countries which have become members of the Hague Convention of 1961. Nearly all countries and most states within the USA have jointed the Convention.
What does the document say?

Each Notarial Certificate that Lesley produces must in each case include essential information, comprising:

  • Lesley’s full name and practising address
  • The full name and identification details of the client who appears before her and the date and place where she has seen you
  • The date of the Certificate
  • The place where the Certificate has been signed and sealed
  • The nature of the act being witnessed/notarised and setting out very clear exact details of what, precisely, Lesley is certifying as a Notary
  • Lesley’s full signature and her unique seal.

The production of Notarial documents is very important. They have to be substantial and they have to be secure therefore Lesley must:

  • Use high quality paper
  • Use ink which is permanent
  • Identify the relevant number of pages each document comprises
  • Not leave any spaces or blank lines
  • If alterations have to be made then these must be initialled by Lesley and by the client signatory.
    Ensure the document is be secure and “tamper proof”

Lesley ensures that Notarial Certificates are secure by sewing the pages together with ribbon and using a wafer to seal down the ribbon ends over which is applied her Notary Seal. Staples, wire and heat binding systems must not be used. It is absolutely essential that Lesley’s Notarial Certificate cannot be removed and attached to something else and that the underlying document cannot be removed and replaced with something else. Basically ensuring that every document that leaves her possession is absolutely tamper proof.

Can you deal with foreign language documents?

Before working on your documents, it is necessary for Lesley to ensure that:

  • You understand the documents you are signing and their effect on you as an individual or their effect on your business
  • What the documents say accurately match your understanding of the transaction to which you or your business are about to commit

In order to check this, she will need at least a basic understanding of the documents. If they are principally in a foreign
language, it may be necessary to obtain a translation on your behalf from a qualified translator or ask you to get advice from the lawyer in the foreign country in question. If a translation is required a quote for this work will be obtained from the qualified translator and forwarded to you for your consideration.

Did you know? Fact about Notaries

  1. There aren’t very many Notaries around! There are approximately only 1,000 Notaries in England and Wales.
  2. The Archbishop of Canterbury is Lesley’s boss! The Archbishop of Canterbury appoints Notaries on the authority of the Crown. This jurisdiction is exercised through one of the oldest of English Courts – The Court of Faculties.
  3. Lesley must comply with stringent rules and regulations. Notaries must be fully insured and maintain fidelity cover for the protection of our clients and the public. They must keep clients’ monies separate from our own and must comply with stringent practice rules concerning conduct and discipline. Notaries are only granted a new Practicing Certificate if we have fully complied with all of the rules.

Contact a specialist

Lesley Fairclough

Partner | Built Environment

+44 (0) 330 137 3118

+44 (0) 784 131 7493

Email Lesley Fairclough

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