Possible Fraudulent use of Notarised Documents Leads to New Guidelines

The Organised and Financial Crime Authority of New Zealand (“OFCANZ”) has been reviewing the possible misuse of notarised documents and as a result the Department of Internal Affairs ("DIA") has published new guidelines for the acceptance of documents for legalising by apostille. These require greater vigilance and formality from all notaries.

The problem has arisen because documents have been submitted to some notaries for them simply to witness a signature on a one page corporate certificate. That document has then been submitted to the DIA with other attachments which the notary has never seen or verified. The apostille has then been affixed to the whole bundle of documents and it has been sent overseas and apparently relied on by foreign authorities. This is quite wrong and purports to apply notarial authority to documents which have never been submitted to the notarial process.

The DIA now requires that all pages of documents submitted for authentication or legalising of a notarial act should bear the imprint of the notary’s seal and the notary’s initials and that the documents which comprise attachments to the act itself should be bound together in a way that will make any tampering with the documents obvious. This will normally require that documents be bound together with ribbon or some other similar form of binding which is tamper-proof. Simple stapling of the document will no longer be acceptable. Our practice is to rivet documents together and multi-page documents will not be allowed to leave chambers in loose leaf. If you require an electronic copy of a document, it will be sent to you before the original is riveted, and you can ask for a loose leaf copy (an additional charge will apply), but the original must be bound in accordance with DIA guidelines before it is released. Any copy that is provided will be clearly marked as such, 

This is considered to be in accordance with best practice promoted by Prof Peter Zablud in his book Principles of Notarial Practice. The DIA guidlelines are a timely reminder of the importance of the notarial act and the reliance that must be able to be placed on it.

For more information or to make an appointment for a notarial matter, click here.  

P.  +64 9 307 3993   M.  +64 21 627 737
F.  +64 9 307 3996
E.  geoff.clews@taxcounsel.co.nz