India – Signing the Vakalatnama in Australia
If you have a lawyer in India looking after court proceedings in India, it’s likely that they’ll ask you to sign a vakalatnama. As a leading provider of notar public services in Sydney, we help many clients with verifying the identity and witnessing them sign the vakalatnama so that they can send it to their lawyer in India.
What’s the vakalatnama?
The vakalatnama is an Indian court document. You must sign it to authorise your lawyer to represent you in your court case in India Your lawyer must file the vakalatnama with the court where your court case is taking place.
If you have multiple court cases in India, then it’s likely that you must sign multiple vakalatnamas (one for each case) so that your lawyer can represent you in each of those cases.
Do I have to sign in front of a notary public?
If you’re living in Australia, but your court case is in India, then it’s likely that you must sign the vakalatnama in the presence of a notary public. The notary public will verify your identity, witness you sign and then notarise the vakalatnama.
If you’re signing in India, then it’s likely that you would sign it in front of your lawyer in India. You generally wouldn’t sign it in front of a notary public in India.
My lawyer said they would fill in the blanks, can I just sign it?
You’re responsible for what you sign.
If you sign an incomplete document and expect someone else to complete it for you, then you bear the consequences of whatever that document becomes in the future.
After you’ve signed the vakalatnama, you really have no control over what happens to it. You don’t know whether your lawyer completes it or whether it’s completed by someone else especially if it falls into someone else’s possession or control (ie, lost).
If we notarise the vakalatnama, we record what it is at the time of notarisation. Any changes after notarisation wouldn’t form part of the notarisation and cannot be verified with us.
Should the vakalatnama be stamped with an apostille?
You should ask your lawyer in India (ie, the lawyer who asked you to sign the vakalatnama) whether it must be stamped with an apostille.
In Australia, the apostille is issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). If you’re signing a document (ie, the vakalatnama or any other document), DFAT will only stamp it with an apostille after it’s been notarised.
If your lawyer in India is unable to tell you whether an apostille is required, then consider these points:
- Australia and India are both members of the Apostille Convention.
- According to the Apostille Convention, documents signed in Australia but used in India should also be notarised and then stamped with an apostille.
- Once a document has been stamped with an apostille, there generally is no ‘higher’ attestation available for documents intended for India.
- If an apostille is required, the court in India might reject the vakalatnama if it hasn’t been stamped with the apostille.
- If an apostille is not required, the apostille is just an ‘additional attestation’ and it shouldn’t invalidate the vakalatnama.
Should the vakalatnama be attested by VFS/Indian Consulate?
You should ask your lawyer in India (ie, the lawyer who asked you to sign the vakalatnama) whether it must be attested by VFS/Indian Consulate.
If you’re not an Indian citizen, VFS will only attest documents that have been stamped with an apostille. VFS will also require you to sign a disclaimer/acknowledgment that once your document has been stamped with an apostille, VFS/Indian Consulate attestation is not required according to the Apostille Convention.
Do you have any questions?
Sending documents from Australia to other countries can be complicated. We make it simple.
If your documents must be stamped with an apostille or authenticated and then legalised, we can help with that too. We've also created a flowchart to explain the process.
So, what's next?
Why choose Phang Legal for your notary public services?
We're a leading provider of notary public services in Sydney. We're known for our experience and expertise in notarising documents for other countries, our low-cost fixed fees and service offering, and our availability to help on short notice.
Our office is conveniently located in Parramatta, the geographic centre of the Sydney metropolitan area. We help clients from across Sydney and beyond with personal, professional and timely notary public services.
This website is maintained by Phang Legal, a boutique law firm in Parramatta and a leading provider of quality notary public services to satisfied clients across Sydney.
Ern Phang is a director of Phang Legal and a notary public (since 2005). Ern regularly writes about his experiences as a notary public and the issues faced by his clients in sending documents to other countries.