Notarial authentication is a crucial process in confirming the authenticity of a document.
Louwrens Koen Attorneys, Conveyancers and Notaries Public, a boutique law firm located in Pretoria, offers high-quality online legal services to clients.
Documents require authentication in certain transactions and actions, such as purchasing or selling offshore property, transferring money to/from an offshore account, contracting with a foreign party, applying for a job abroad, or transporting a minor child without the consent of the other parent. In South Africa, documents must generally be authenticated by a Notary Public and have an Apostille certificate attached to be accepted for use abroad.
With the rise of virtual and electronic transactions, it's important to consider the provisions of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (ECT Act) when certifying a copy of an original document. The act provides guidelines for assessing the integrity of electronic information and determining if it meets the requirement of being presented in its original form.
However, notaries are not immune to fraud, especially in a virtual environment. The National Notary Association suggests notaries take precautions such as verifying the signer's identity, ensuring they are signing willingly and understanding the document, and protecting their seal and journal records from unauthorised access.
To ensure a successful notarial authentication process, notaries should check the identity of the person signing the document, verify their willingness and understanding of the document, and take responsible steps to protect their stamp, seal, and protocol. They should not rely solely on trust or familiarity with the person.