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witnessing signature - do you need to know the document

witnessing signature - do you need to know the document

Postby daffy » Sun Dec 11, 2016 8:30 pm

Hello

Person A lives in Britain and his brother B in Germany. Their mother dies (in Germany) and B wants access to her bank account with approval of A. German Bank GeBa issues a standard document to A to sign, which would give B the authority to access the account in GeBa. GeBa asks A to sign this and get signature witnessed by a rep of a British Bank BB. GeBa advises that the words of witnessing can be added in English to the document, but that the witnessor does not need to understand the document which is in German. It is not permitted to issue the document in English though

A asks all BBs that he has accounts with who refuse without looking at the document, not because the document is written in a foreign language but because they never witness documents that are not UK mortgage related.

So A will try to find an alternative witnessor - Clergy, Employer etc.
Are these likely to witness a signature to a document without having a clue what is in the document? Does it matter at all if one knows what document one is witnessing?

Thanks
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Re: witnessing signature - do you need to know the document

Postby Hairyloon » Sun Dec 11, 2016 9:16 pm

I believe that a witness simply acknowledges that the person signing the document is the person that they claim to be, in which case, they do not need to know the detail of the document.
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Re: witnessing signature - do you need to know the document

Postby CP09 » Sun Dec 11, 2016 10:06 pm

While in the UK, there are generally few restrictions on witnessing a signature, in this instance I would suggest that the OP passes this information back go the German bank. My suggestion is that the OP asks if the signature could be witnessed by a public notary since this functionary has a Europe wide network.
Obviously more expensive than a simple wintess signature, but may provide a simple solution.

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Re: witnessing signature - do you need to know the document

Postby atticus » Sun Dec 11, 2016 10:07 pm

But if the person asked to witness a signature does not wish to do so, he cannot be compelled.
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Re: witnessing signature - do you need to know the document

Postby Hairyloon » Sun Dec 11, 2016 10:27 pm

daffy wrote:GeBa asks A to sign this and get signature witnessed by a rep of a British Bank BB...

So A will try to find an alternative witnessor - Clergy, Employer etc.
Are these likely to witness a signature to a document without having a clue what is in the document?

This is not a relevant question if GeBa want a BB as a witness.
The first question is of who will GeBa accept as a suitable alternative.
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Re: witnessing signature - do you need to know the document

Postby daffy » Sun Dec 11, 2016 10:43 pm

CP09 wrote:While in the UK, there are generally few restrictions on witnessing a signature, in this instance I would suggest that the OP passes this information back go the German bank. My suggestion is that the OP asks if the signature could be witnessed by a public notary since this functionary has a Europe wide network.
Obviously more expensive than a simple wintess signature, but may provide a simple solution.

Colin


Thank you Colin
Very helpful
I will get onto this tomorrow
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Re: witnessing signature - do you need to know the document

Postby daffy » Sun Dec 11, 2016 10:45 pm

Hairyloon wrote:
daffy wrote:GeBa asks A to sign this and get signature witnessed by a rep of a British Bank BB...

So A will try to find an alternative witnessor - Clergy, Employer etc.
Are these likely to witness a signature to a document without having a clue what is in the document?

This is not a relevant question if GeBa want a BB as a witness.
The first question is of who will GeBa accept as a suitable alternative.

Hm Yes, point taken, thanks!
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Re: witnessing signature - do you need to know the document

Postby daffy » Sun Dec 11, 2016 10:49 pm

atticus wrote:But if the person asked to witness a signature does not wish to do so, he cannot be compelled.

No
A will feel uncomfi to ask, I gather
Notary may be the way forward if GeBa approves, and should know how to treat foreign documents

Thanks All
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Re: witnessing signature - do you need to know the document

Postby dls » Mon Dec 12, 2016 5:44 am

The simple test in the UK is whether the witness knows the general nature of the document - he does not need to read or understand it. His action answers the question of whether the signatory added his signature.

This is complicated however, because we do not know what law governs the signature - the document may provide, for example, that a particular character of witness is required or that German law is applied wherever it is signed - who knows what it provides.

A notary may (should) refuse to be witness to a signing of a document in a language he does not understand. Similarly he will be very cautious about allowing somebody to sign a document they do not understand.

If the document is important enough to require a witness, the bank should be much clearer in its requirements.
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Re: witnessing signature - do you need to know the document

Postby daffy » Mon Dec 12, 2016 3:27 pm

Hello David

thank you for your helpful reply. Getting back to GeBa seems the right thing to do then.

I have found a public notary with a German department, though they have not got back to me. Perhaps too small a job. If the bank decides that notary is OK, hopefully they won't cost more than what's in the account or the cost of a trip to G.
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