Certified document copies and their limitations

During recent purchases the status of certified documents has been raised.  In particular, documents which are not original, but which have been certified by a Lawyer as a fair and true copy of the original (otherwise known as “certified copies”) have been proffered on the basis that they are for all practical purposes the same as the original documents. 

This is a practice which has almost universal application, but there are circumstances in which no copy documents (Certified or otherwise) can be treated as the originals, and accorded the same legal status.  This reflects the importance that the Law places on seeing the original documents in certain important transactions.  In any transaction involving the purchase or sale of a Registered Part I Yacht, the MCA will only accept an original Bill of Sale, in the MCA approved form, in order to register a change of ownership.

Accordingly, whilst it is by no means uncommon for solicitors acting in the purchase of yachts to provide owners with examined copies of the documents whilst the originals are with the MCA during the re-registration process, the originals need to be retained and made available whenever and wherever required.

Such is the importance of retaining original documents (particularly the all-important VAT Paid documentation) that they should certainly be kept in a safe place and examined copies left on the vessel.  The examined document cannot however be a substitute for the original, and the original therefore needs to be looked after and kept in a safe place for future production as and when the need arises.  Should the original ever go missing, it cannot be presumed that an examined copy will be accepted in its place.


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