Signing and Witnessing a Document under The Registration of Titles Act
Section 152 of the Registration of Titles Act provides for the attestation of documents lodged for registration at the Office of Titles. When a document is lodged at the Office of Titles the Registrar of Titles must be satisfied that the document is legally and formally valid. One such requirement relates to the signing and witnessing of documents.
Signing by Individual
The document should be signed by all the parties concerned and named in the document. The names of the parties in the signing clause should be identical to the ones stated in the instrument. The person signing the document must do so manually and in ink. Facsimile and photocopy of signatures are not authorized by the Act. See example forms of attestation one.
A person may be unable to read or write by reason of illiteracy or some physical impairment. In these cases it will be necessary that the contents of the document be read over and explained to the individual before they sign the document. The person may affix their normal signature or place a mark on the document. These persons are normally referred to as marksman. See examples of attestation two.
Signing Under a Power of Attorney
The document may be signed on behalf of an individual or company under a Power of Attorney. The attorney should sign the document in his or her own signature. The power of attorney is required to be lodged at the Office of Titles and will be given a unique number which is to be stated in the signing clause as well as the date of deposit at the office. See example form of attestation three.
Documents may also be signed by a receiver, liquidator or a person appointed by the court. Any agent signing a document on behalf of the registered proprietor must state the source of their authority and submit documentary proof of same.
Signing by Corporations
Section 127 of the Registration of Titles Act provides for the execution of documents by corporations. Where a company signs a document using its common seal, the seal of the company should be affixed according to its Articles of Association. This is normally done by a combination of two officers of the company normally the Company Secretary and one of it’s Directors. As a result the persons affixing the seal should state their position in the company. The signing clause should include the fact the seal has been affixed see Example forms of Execution four.
The company may also sign a document without the use of a seal. Execution can be done by the two of the officers of the company stating their names and the capacity in which they are signing for and on behalf of the company. See example forms of attestation. The document being executed in this manner has the same effect as being executed under Seal. See example form of attestation five.
Attestation/Witnessing of a Document
An individual signing a document must do so before one of the functionaries prescribed by section 152 of the RTA. The purpose of this is that someone independently can witness the act of signing and thereby acts as some form of validity that the documents was properly signed by the named individual.
For documents executed within the island of Jamaica these documents must be witnessed before a:
1. Justice of the Peace
2. Judge of the Supreme Court
3. Registrar of Titles
4. Notary Public
5. The Governor-General
For documents signed in Great Britain or Northern Island:
1. The Mayor or Deputy Mayor
2. Chief Magistrate or Deputy Magistrate Chief Magistrate
3. Notary Public
For documents signed in any other Commonwealth country:
1. The Governor
3. Judge of any court
4. Mayor or Chief Magistrate
5. Notary Public
For documents signed in a foreign country or state
1. The Jamaican or British Consular Officer
2. Notary Public.
Where an instrument is witnessed by a Notary Public in a Foreign State or Country you must provide certificate from the appropriate officer within that country or state that the Notary Public is duly commissioned and practicing in such State or Country and that full faith or credit can be given to his acts. See examples of certificates verifying the commission of the notary public issued in the United States.
Any other person or individual can be a witness within the island or outside of the Island but in this case the witness shall appear before one of the functionaries aforesaid who after making due enquiries of such witness and shall endorse on the same instrument a form prescribed by the Act and this shall be sufficient proof of the due signing of the document. The jurat should contain the date when and the place where the probate clause is taken, among other things. See example forms of attestation six.
WHERE A DOCUMENT IS WITNESSED OUTSIDE OF THE ISLAND BY ONE OF THE FUNCTIONARIES LISTED ABOVE THE SEAL OF SUCH OFFICER SHALL BE AFFIXED TO HIS ATTESTATION.
WHERE A DOCUMENT IS WITNESSED WITHIN THE ISLAND BY A JUSTICE OF THE PEACE THE SEAL OF SUCH FUNCTIONARY BEARING THE NUMBER SHALL BE AFFIXED TO HIS ATTESTATION.
Example forms of executing
1. Individuals signing on their own behalf:
Signed by (full name of individual) __________________
in the presence of : Witness :(signature of the witness and the capacity of the witness eg. Attorney-at-law/Justice of the Peace. The seal of the witness is normally required to be affixed to the document. For Justices of the Peace the parish is to be stated.
2. Individuals signing as a Marksman
Signed by (full name of individual)
After the same was read over and explained to him or her and who expressed themselves as understanding the nature and effects of the contents.
In the presence of
Witness : (prescribed by the act)
3. Individuals signing under a Power of Attorney
Signed by (full name of attorney)
For and on behalf of (full name of individual)
Under power of attorney number ___ deposited
On the (day/month/year)
4. Company signing under Seal
The Common Seal of (name of company)
Was affixed by (name of person and their capacity) and
(name of person and their capacity)
In the presence of
Witness: (prescribed by the act)
5. Company signing without a Seal
Signed by (name of company)
By (name of individual and capacity) and
By (name of individual and capacity)
Appeared before me at (address) on the (day) of (month/year) (name of witness) the attesting witness to this instrument and declared that he or she was satisfied that the name purporting to be the signature of (registered proprietor) is his/her own handwriting and that he/she was of sound mind and freely and voluntarily signed such instrument.
The document will normally be accepted for registration if the signature of the person is indecipherable however the document will not be accepted where the signature reveals a major disparity in spelling or a different name.
Documents not requiring a formal witness
1. Discharge of Mortgages
2. Caveat Instruments
3. Withdrawal of Caveats
In these cases the following is to be stated: