1. Getting your document to us
It's entirely possible for documents to get lost in the post, it happens all the time. In 2019-20 Royal Mail dealt with nearly 10 BILLION separate items defined as Letters/Large Letters. Not all of them used the same service of course but 1st Class offered a 92.6% delivery rate for day-after-collection deliveries, 2nd Class offered a 98.7% delivery rate for delivery within 3 days of collection and Special Delivery offered a 98.6% delivery rate on a guaranteed next day delivery service.
Not all of the post that didn't arrive in those timescales were lost though, most of them were delivered the following day or a little bit later.
Royal Mail's compensation scheme recorded a drop in claims compared to 2018-19 across 10 categories BUT the loss category did rise 9.1%.
See our Blog post in getting your documents to us...
2. Incorrect solicitor certification
The Apostilles Group has in-house solicitors and notary publics who are well versed in the necessary requirements for legalisation and apostilles. It has been known for some solicitors to have never heard about legalisation, which sounds ridiculous but it's really not an everyday thing for a lot or people, I'd certainly never heard of it before I was in the industry.
Solicitor certification MUST be carried out by a registered and practicing UK solicitor. Not a conveyancer or legal assistant, only a solicitor. They must sign the document using their personal hand written signature (not a company/practice signature or a stamp), date it and declare their practice address by ink stamp or writing. You can check who is a solicitor and who isn't, here.
Notary Publics carry out a different process when they notarise a document and they are usually far more aware of the legalisation process so you shouldn't have much trouble here. You can find a Notary Public, local to you, here.
See our Blog post on the difference between certification, notarisation, legalisation, etc.
3. FCDO attempt to contact Registrar/Solicitor/Official
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office issue ALL apostilles, they are the one and only authority in the UK that are allowed to do so. They have one office in Milton Keynes where they offer a postal and drop-in service (for business customers only) and another office in Central London where documents can be apostilled on the same day.
In each case, they will check the validity of the person who has signed the document and in the case of educational documents, the validity of the issuing authority, such as the university, school or college. This only counts for solicitors, registrars, judges, etc. If you have signed the document for whatever reason, they won't try to contact you.
In the first instance, they will try to email/call the person in question and speak to them as soon as possible. They will then contact the practice or office in question and ask for records of previous staff. If they can't find any evidence that the signature was carried out by someone who had the authority to do so, they will reject the application for apostille.
That doesn't mean there is anything wrong with the document itself, it is still as legal as it ever was (Birth, Marriage, Death Certificates, etc.), it's simply that, for the purpose of legalisation, there is not enough information to do so.
PLUS, it's not the end of the road. If we use the Birth, Marriage and Death Certificate example, we can get certified copies from the General Register Office on your behalf in just 2 days using the information on the rejected document. This will be guaranteed to receive an apostille.
If a solicitor cannot be tracked then we will discuss options with you on a case-by-case basis. There's always something we can do but it's hard to list them in a blog post as it really requires some careful, specific thought.