The Importance of Document Verification and Authentication

Some of my clients may have felt a bit concerned when they are asked to produce their ID documents and proofs of address at appointment.
However it is necessary to understand that it is related to the duty to be performed by the notary.

The duty of a notary is to certify four essential things: 1. The identity of the parties or those who appear before him; 2. The capacity of the parties; 3. The authority under which the parties seek to act; 4. The will of the parties to understand and be bound by the transaction.
Identity
With regard to identity, my first step is to request the client to show me his passport (the best ID document). I am required to verify if the picture on the passport bears a true likeness of the client. In this way, the client can be confirmed his true identity through verification. Sometimes the real person does look a bit different, maybe as a result of different hair style or eye-glasses. Age plays a role as well. People seem offended when they are made aware of the fact that they look much older than the photos taken a few years back.
The Importance of Document Verification and Authentication
In that case, it is also necessary to look at personal papers either alone or in association with a passport to make an association with an address. As national identity card is not yet available, a driving licence may be a help. I would also require the client to produce a copy of his/her utility bill where his or her address is printed.
I am of the opinion that a professional judgment has to be made to see if the passport is forged. But sometimes it is very difficult to tell.
For a corporation, I have to examine the incorporation certificate to ascertain the identity of the client. The officer acting on its behalf must also be identified in its personal capacity.
Capacity
It is also necessary to verify if the capacity of the client will be adversely affected by some form of disability, mental or physical. If such disability exists, I must decide whether it may render the transaction impossible. I am required to compile and record these facts in my notes.
It is also necessary to ask for medical opinion before notarization can take place. Recently I have a client who is suffering from Parkinson disease. Though she claims to be mentally capable, I still have to await a written statement from her doctor before she executes legal documents before me.
In the case of incorporated bodies, company searches are to be undertaken as a matter of routine.
Authority
It is essential to verify the authority of an client If the client is acting on his own behalf, verification is not necessary so far as his own identity can be established.
The Importance of Document Verification and Authentication
If the client is acting on behalf of some other person or organisation under some form of authority, as a notary, I must verify that authority.
How do I verify the client’s authority?
If the client is an office holder, I must verify that the client holds that office, and that the holder of that office has the power to perform the action. It is essential to undertake a company search to verify the above.
If the client claims to be an attorney, it is imperative for me to see the power of attorney. I must also verify that it is valid and effective to authorize the action to be taken, and that it has been given by someone who himself has the power to perform the action.
Will and intention
To verify that the client has the will to enter a transaction a notary must verify that he understands it and intends it. The client must have a sufficient understanding of the law of the foreign country as well as the language of the transaction.
For this reason, a foreign document must be translated into English to ensure all parties have full understanding of the document to be executed
It is important to ascertain the client’s intention to be bound. For his purpose, the client needs to have a sufficient understanding of the content and effect of the document.
That is why I always ask if the client before me if he/she has read through the document and fully understood its content before the client put his/her signature on it.

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