Understanding the Expertise of a Notary Public
The role played by notaries public is one that has become especially valuable in recent years with the advent of Brexit and the continuing fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. While rarely recognised in the wider corporate space, the services that notaries provide are often integral to the work of both individuals and corporations operating overseas.
Experienced notary public Kuldip Bhatti explores some of these aspects in this month’s featured interview with Lawyer Monthly Magazine. What are the services offered by a notary, what is their value to companies and individuals, and how is this changing in the modern age? Kuldip shares his insights along with a look into his own practice and plans for the future.
To begin with the basics, what role does a notary perform for a company in the UK? What services can they provide to a corporation or similar organisation?
A notary public can legalise many types of documents for companies for use both in England and most commonly overseas. These include:
- Documents for setting up companies abroad
- Corporate powers of attorney
- Certificates of good standing
- Apostille and legalisation services
- Notarisation of company documents such as resolutions, minutes, Articles of Association, etc.
- Notarisation of share certificates
- Notarisation of documents required for the sale and purchase of companies
- Certified copy of company minutes, board meetings and resolutions
- Acknowledgements for use in the USA
- Certification of trademark documentation
- Certification of ID for directors and company secretaries
- Certification of the execution of commercial contracts for use outside England and Wales
- Affidavits and statutory declarations
- Protesting bills of exchange
- E-notarisation of some document
- Obtaining apostilles on behalf of company clients.
How do these differ from the services offered to individuals?
When it comes to notarising documents for an individual, these are naturally more personal and do not require authority from an corporate entity. There is a small overlap between companies and individuals, in the sense that a notary public would offer to such services as:
- Notarising passports and proof of address
- Certifying copies of degree certificates
- Certifying change of name documents
- Attesting powers of attorneys for use in countries outside England and Wales such as Spain, France and Italy (to name a fe)
- Notarising documents to administer estates
- Notarising consents for children travelling
- Notarising documents for marriages
- Notarising documents for adoption
- Notarising documents for buying and selling properties
- Attesting wills
- Notarising oaths
- Notarising statutory declarations
- Apostille and legalisation services
- Notarising acknowledgements for use in the US
- Notarising documents for litigation purposes
- E- otarisation of some documents
- Obtaining apostilles on behalf of clients.
What are the most common kinds of work that you undertake on behalf of your corporate clients?
I would say the requests I am most often asked to assist on are documents such as witnessing and certifying power of attorneys given by individuals for use outside England and Wales, as well as certifying company documents such as certificates of incorporation and articles of association for use overseas. I am also asked to attend board meetings and board resolutions of company clients so that I can notarise any relevant meetings and resolutions that may be required as they are being relied on overseas.
In addition, I am often asked to notarise ID and proof of address documents such as passports and driving licences so that the details of directors of companies based in England and Wales can be added to companies overseas. In the past I have also been asked to verify a company director’s signature on behalf of banks overseas so that the company could make use of all banking facilities that might be open to them overseas.
Have you noticed any significant changes in the kind of work that you have been called upon to undertake since you first became a notary public?
Due to the pandemic, I have seen a large increase in the use of power of attorneys as clients are more reluctant to travel. Brexit has also had an impact on the kind of work we have been asked to undertake. Since the United Kingdom is no longer part of the EU, I have noticed more demand in documents to be notarised which were not required when I first became a notary (which was obviously pre-Brexit), such as visa applications and banking-related documents.
Due to the pandemic, I have seen a large increase in the use of power of attorneys as clients are more reluctant to travel.
What current legal sector trends are you observing?
As the world is changing, I have seen the use of more of electronic means to assist the notary. I am pleased to confirm I can also offer the service of e-notarisation of some documents. I am also noticing this is in private practice at KB Solicitors, in that many documents are now sent and completed electronically rather than as it was in the ‘old days’ via post.
I have also noticed a trend in the use of social media platforms to not only precure work but also to promote and market oneself. This is not only done through Linkedin but also through other social platforms as Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. I feel this is important as many people use these platforms and this is a good way for lawyer or law firms to interact and communicate with clients or potential clients. Due in part to the aftereffects of the pandemic and hybrid working, prompting a rise in the use of ZOOM and other platforms, some networking events are also being held ‘virtually’, which requires a different skill set of interacting with people rather than seeing and meeting people in person.
What advice would you give to a less experienced legal professional looking to become a notary?
Be prepared. Whilst it is a very rewarding profession dealing with various types of documents from all over the world, it is also a very challenging profession and a notary must always be diligent and maintain all checks and balances in place to ensure that they are acting in accordance with the rules that govern a notary. Always remember: never be afraid to ask the client more questions, as you must always fully understand what you are doing and what you are being asked to do.
As I had drummed into my many times by accomplished notaries in the past, a notary primary role is to act as a ‘gatekeeper’, always ensuring that what is being asked to be done and what is done is correct and to ensure (as you would when you have your solicitor ‘hat’ on) that you have complied with all anti-money laundering and capacity checks that are required.
About Kuldip Bhatti
Please tell us about your background in law. What was it that led you to become a notary public?
I always wanted to be a lawyer, and after reading law at Leicester and then completing my Master’s in Commercial Law at the University of Birmingham, I was fortunate enough to be offered a training contract two years in advance whilst at university, which allowed me to complete my legal practice and enjoy a year of travelling before commencing my training.
Having qualified as a solicitor at large provincial law firm, I worked in the City of London with a large international law firm and then as a partner with a niche commercial practice for many years. Working in the commercial and corporate departments, I dealt with many transactions that involved jurisdictions outside England and Wales, which therefore required the services of a notary public. I found the work and tasks the notary was tasked to perform interesting and varied and felt this was an area that I would like to be involved in.
After nearly 20 years of toning my legal skills and amassing a great deal of experience, I felt I had the necessary skills and expertise and – very importantly – the desire to become a successful notary public. I then embarked on a journey of further studies at University College London in order to finally become a notary public.
Always remember: never be afraid to ask the client more questions, as you must always fully understand what you are doing and what you are being asked to do.
What do you find the most interesting aspect of your career?
I love the fact that I can wear two hats – one as a notary public and the other as a solicitor and founding partner of KB Solicitors Limited. I find this keeps me fresh and challenged every day, which is vital in any career. Due to the fact that the legal profession is keeping up with the modern world and becoming more in touch with electronic and digital communication and correspondence, I have honed and improved my skills a great deal in this regard and have a far better understanding of this. I feel this is vital and keeps me up to date. I feel that an essential skill of a modern lawyer is not only to have an excellent legal mind but also to ensure that they learn and adapt with the times.
I find it very challenging and rewarding to be both a solicitor and a notary public. Whilst both are legal roles, the combination of the two, I believe, makes me a more skilled and competent lawyer.
Can you share any career plans you have for the remainder of the year?
It is also a challenge to continue to grow and expand the two businesses, those being KB Notary Public Limited and KB Solicitors. My plan is to continue to grow KB Notary Public Limited and to continue to offer clients in both England and Wales as well as overseas a fantastic service and expertise that meets all of their notarial needs.
As founding partner of KB Solicitors, I intend to continue to grow the firm, with expansion planned in other areas of the law such as family and private client matters. I am also hoping to open more offices at other locations in addition to our Bracknell and Marlow offices, such as Wokingham and London. As always, I also always keen to recruit hard working and competent staff in a variety of roles such as notarial assistant, paralegal, solicitors and trainee solicitors.
Kuldip Bhatti, Founder
Venture House, 2 Arlington Square, Bracknell, RG12 1WA, UK
Tel: +44 01344 374406
Kuldip Bhatti is a highly experienced notary public and the founding director of KB Solicitors & Notary Public. Based in Bracknell, Berkshire and Marlow, Kuldip serves clients throughout the surrounding counties. His clients include both companies and individuals, and his areas of expertise include the notarisation and certification of a broad range of documents, as well as apostille services.