UK qualified Solicitors are frequently being asked during this emergency period to advise on the virtual execution of documents, as well as to witness signatures or certify identity by video conference.
Charlotte Oliver and Aleksandra Broom, the Solicitors of this firm, are both available and equipped to use “virtual” or electronic means to carry out the following procedures at a distance:
- certification of copy documents;
- certification of identity for UK banking procedures/conveyancing;
- witnessing signature on Statutory Declaration or Power of Attorney;
- taking sworn Affidavits or Oaths;
- assisting with the execution and exchange of legal documents such as binding agreements, preliminary contracts or “scritture private“
Our clients often request us to deal very urgently with these type of matters, in particular the certification of copy documents and ID, because of deadlines they need to meet in banking or conveyancing matters they are dealing with in the UK.
We need to assess each individual situation and advise on a particular procedure to be followed. As far as documents being certified or executed for the UK , whether any of these “virtual” means is appropriate or valid in accordance with English law will of course depend on the relevant legislation, regulatory requirements within the specific practice area and the type of document being signed or executed.
As Solicitors we will follow guidance from the Law Society of England and Wales. Guidance was published by the Law Society for Solicitors on 7th May 2020 on virtual exchange of contracts and electronic signatures in the COVID-19 emergency (click here for link): stating as its objective “to support solicitors and the clients of solicitors in delivering transactions in an evolving commercial environment, in a practical and pragmatic manner, but with legal certainty.“
In the Italian legal world on the other hand, the certification of documents by a UK Solicitor will not be recognised by a public authority. Only the Notary as a public official has the power to authenticate a signature or a copy of an original document. Likewise any original foreign original document or certificate cannot be authenticated by a Solicitor but will need to be legalised in the country of origin before it is recognised in Italy.