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Easier Signed Than Done—Execution, Authentication, and Recording of Documents in Common Law and Civil Law Jurisdictions

, David S. Allman, Pablo Mir, Lucy Young

North American common law lawyers, depending on their area of practice, have at least a basic understanding of the formalities of execution and witnessing or other form of authentication which must be complied with as a prerequisite to recording or registration of documents in public registries in their jurisdiction, such as real estate or land registries or mineral title registries. The common law lawyer encountering a similar transaction in a civil law jurisdiction will find that the process of execution, authentication, and recording of documents differs significantly from the process in his or her common law jurisdiction of practice. The lawyer should understand the different and significant role that the notary public plays in commercial transactions in civil law jurisdictions, and in the civil law legal system generally. When the commercial transaction requires that documents be executed in the United States or Canada for use in the civil law jurisdiction, such documents must be authenticated or legalized (the terms being somewhat interchangeable) in order that such documents will be recognized in the civil law jurisdiction as validly executed under the laws of the originating common law jurisdiction. The common law lawyer should understand the sometimes onerous and time-consuming steps involved in obtaining such authentication and legalization. This article examines the