Thursday, September 3, 2009

New Law Alert: Abolishment of Legalisation

A new royal decree has been issued this month abolishing the requirement of legalisation for foreign public documents. Royal Decree No. 47/2009 approves the Sultanate of Oman joining the 1961 Hague Convention, and replaces the existing system for legalising documents with a certificate known as an Apostille. The Apostille allows specific types of foreign public documents to be freely circulated in all nations that have approved the Hague Convention. Examples include patents, court rulings and notarial attestations of signatures, but do not include diplomatic documents and administrative documents dealing directly with commercial or customs operations.

Apostilles can only be issued by an authority designated by the country from which the public document originates and the Convention applies to public documents that have been executed in one signatory State and which have to be produced in another signatory State. For example, if a company in Oman wanted to use a notarized copy of the Memorandum and Articles of Association of a company based in England, it would only need to procure the England & Wales Apostille relating to that document, and affix it to the extract from Companies House.

The details of Royal Decree 47/2009 are emerging still and information has not yet been made public about how the Convention's provisions will be implemented under Omani law. However, companies in Oman will greatly benefit from the new decree as it will simplify the existing system and make it easier to do business with foreign companies. It is worth noting that Apostilles do not relate to the content of the underlying foreign public document; they only certify the authenticity of the signature, seal or stamp the document bears.

Each designated authority will maintain a Register recording all the Apostilles it has issued. The Registers, which can be accessed by any interested party, are designed to combat fraud and assess the origin of an Apostille in case of doubt.

For an updated list of signatory States to the Convention, see the “Status table of the Apostille Convention” under the “Apostille Section” of the Hague Convention website ( You also can find a list of each State's designated authorities.