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Authentication

16 March 2006

In the October SA Deeds Journal,Allen West considers the authentication of documents executed outside of South Africa for use inside South Africa.

Conveyancers and examiners are often confronted with documents which have been executed outside of South Africa. "Document" is defined in Rule 63 of the High Court Rules as any deed, contract, power of attorney or other writing. From a conveyancing point of view, this includes all deeds and documents lodged for registration or being filed as supporting documents in a deeds registry.

Rule 63 of the High Court Rules lays down the following procedure for the proper authentication of documents:

Should the document be executed in any one of the following countries:

  • England/Great Britain
  • Northern Ireland
  • Zimbabwe
  • Lesotho
  • Botswana
  • Swaziland
it may be authenticated by a notary public.

However, should the document be executed anywhere else in the world, such document must be authenticated by one of the following:
  • the head of the South African diplomatic or consular mission or a person in the administrative or professional division of the public service serving as a South African diplomatic, consular or trade office abroad;
  • any Government authority of such country charged with the authentication of documents under the law of such country;
  • the consul-general, consul, vice-consul or consular agent of the United Kingdom.

The document shall only be deemed to be duly authenticated where the authentication is augmented by a certificate from any of the persons referred to supra.

Rule 63 also affords a registrar of deeds a matter of discretion in that, should a registrar deem a document to be actually signed by a person purporting to have signed such document, then the authentication by the persons referred to above may be dispensed with.

From personal knowledge, it is evident that the above practice is not being strictly adhered to and, from a conveyancing point of view, this could cause unnecessary delays if not properly complied with the first time around.

Republished with permission

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