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Role of China-appointed attesting officers in mainland property transactions

  1. A China-appointed attesting officer (“attesting officer”) must be a Hong Kong solicitor. However, the scope of business and the codes of practice of the two are different. An attesting officer shall be responsible for the certification of the authenticity of legal actions that took place in Hong Kong, as well as other legal matters or documents. Such certification shall be valid in mainland China.
  2. According to the relevant rules of the Supreme People’s Court and the Ministry of Justice of the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”), any mainland businesses handled by any person, company or organization in Hong Kong that require the recognition of relevant authorities in the mainland shall be notarized by an attesting officer. Relevant documents notarized by an attesting officer shall be sent to the China Legal Service (Hong Kong) Limited Company for authentication and stamping before they become valid in mainland China.
  3. When notarizing documents, an attesting officer shall abide by the rules and procedures applicable to their mainland counterparts. According to the Provisional Regulations of the PRC on Public Notarization, notarization entails the certification of the truth and legitimacy of legal actions, documents and matters in accordance with law. An attesting officer shall observe relevant Chinese laws and rules and regulations when notarizing documents for use in the mainland.
  4. Services provided by an attesting officer in mainland property transactions mainly include the following:
    • to vet the legality of the principal qualifications of the developer concerned,documents to be checked mainly include the developer’s business licence, the land-use certificate, the permit for construction and planning, as well as the licence for pre-sale to overseas buyers
    • to draft a sale and purchase agreement duly recognized by the local notarial office in accordance with the requirements of the relevant government departments of the area in which the property is located; 
    • to attest to the signature of the purchaser on the sale and purchase agreement upon the authorization of the notarial office of the area in which the property is located; and 4) to send the sale and purchase agreement to the China Legal Service (Hong Kong)