They say the world is a global village. But one of the major problems in conducting business in various parts of the world is that there are so many different laws and regulations relating to companies.
International governments recognise these problems and have introduced various measures over the years to assist business. Probably one of the most significant measures, in a legal sense, is the agreement made by several countries known as the Apostille Convention or Apostille Treaty.
The Treaty (agreement) was drafted by the Hague Conference on Private International Law. It is generally known as the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents. One of the most important documents recognised under the Hague Convention is a Certificate of Good Standing of a Company.
One hundred and twelve countries are signatories to the Treaty and that number is growing. The most recent being Chile which signed the Treaty in August 2016. Australia signed the Treaty on the 16 March 1995. Two of the first countries to sign were France and the United Kingdom on the 24 January 1965.
Under the Treaty the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is authorised to legalise documents for foreign governments. This legalisation is called an apostille. It constitutes an international verification of the document.
However, before the apostille is affixed by DFAT they require an Australian Notary Public to certify or verify the document.
When an Australian company wishes to register in a foreign country it must produce evidence that it is already registered in Australia. That’s when the Australian company would seek the services of an Australian Notary Public to certify that the company is of good standing. The Australian Notary Public issues a formal document known as a Certificate of Good Standing of an Australian Company.
But before issuing the Certificate of Good Standing the Notary Public must carry out his/her own investigations of the company and must also rely on declarations signed by the directors or secretary of the Australian company.
Some of the Notary Public’s investigations include carrying out a search at the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) which is the regulatory authority in Australia for corporations.
The Notary Public obtains a company extract from ASIC relating to the particular company which has asked for the Certificate of Good Standing.
The Certificate of Good Standing is a comprehensive document but it is that Certificate that the foreign business community is entitled to rely on when doing business with an Australian company.