Minister of Justice, Hon. Delroy Chuck, opened the debate on the Authentication (Foreign Public Documents) Bill 2020 in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (September 29).
The Bill is intended to simplify the authentication process of local documents intended for use overseas and of foreign documents intended for use in Jamaica, by only requiring an Apostille Certificate as proof of legalisation.
An Apostille Certificate is issued by an authority designated by the origin State of the document. The Bill proposes the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade as the competent authority.
Common documents that can be authenticated under the Bill, include birth, marriage, death and educational certificates; medical documents certified by the Ministry of Health and Wellness; declarations, shipping documents; statements and similar documents signed before a Justice of the Peace (JP) or Notary Public; company documents and so forth.
“It will allow documents… to be readily accepted abroad. Persons in other countries do not recognise, they may not appreciate our birth certificate, our marriage certificate, various documents, and once a person gets [these documents] legitimised by Apostille Certificate, the other countries accept them easily without the person having to go through a process of legalisation,” Minister Chuck outlined.
He explained that the Bill, when passed into law, will provide the legislative framework for the accession and implementation of the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents, commonly known as The Apostille Convention.
He noted that the Convention applies to public documents issued by a Ministry, Department or Agency of government as well as from judicial authorities such as courts and tribunals.
Minister Chuck said the Apostille Convention enjoys the widest participation by States, with 118 countries from all major regions, representing all major legal systems of the world, being party.
“An Apostille that is issued in respect of a document is accepted by all countries that are parties to the Convention without the need for any further legalisation under their domestic system,” he emphasised.
Minister Chuck said that the legislation will also simplify business transactions for locals and foreigners, making the processes more transparent, simple and timely.
“Recently, some of Jamaica’s international partners indicated that it is becoming increasingly cumbersome for its nationals to do business in Jamaica and for Jamaican nationals to conduct business in their countries because of lengthy legalisation processes. In addition to being a lengthy process, there are also additional costs involved when there is no resident embassy of the country of destination located in Jamaica,” he pointed out.
Minister Chuck said that the Government is committed to making Jamaica a place where one can conduct business efficiently and conveniently.
“We understand that the process of legalisation can be a barrier to the efficient conduct of business in Jamaica. We want to eliminate the unnecessarily lengthy processes, which impede business efficiency. Given the universal nature of the Apostille, it significantly impacts the ease of doing business across international borders,” he noted.