For many western clients one of the mysteries of Romanian law and Romanian legal practice is the power of attorney.
Powers of attorney are known in English law and are used on many occasions but not to the same extent as in Romania.
The use of a simple letter of authority is more widely used in the west than in Romania. It is used in Romania but in a more limited way.
The real problem in relation to the granting of authority to a third party or the granting of a power of attorney in Romania is not in their legal effect but more in the way in which are issued. It should be remembered that in England and Scotland and in many common law countries, solicitors, as distinct from barristers, are officers of the court.
This means that they have certain powers given to them by law which are not given to Romanian lawyers. English lawyers by the very nature of their appointment are entitled to take statements and sign documents which are to be used in court.
This is not the case in Romania. Romanian lawyers are surprised when we tell them the English lawyers have this authority as they see this as a function of the notaries. Public notaries were not a common feature in the legal landscape until Great Britain joined the EU. Since joining the EU the number of notaries has increased in the United Kingdom.
In Romania the Romanian authorities and notaries often will not allow documents to be signed unless the foreign signer who is not in Romania had a power of attorney issued in for example in England. They will only accept the power of attorney if there is a statement that it has been prepared by the Notary in England and executed in front of that notary. The signature in front of a solicitor is not sufficient. Occasionally it has been possible for it to be signed in front of a solicitor and for it to be accepted but in my experience this has only happened once in twenty years. Signature of the power of attorney in England in front of a notary is not sufficient in itself. The document has to have attached to it an apostille issued by the British authorities confirming that the Notary is a notary. All this adds to the time and expense of obtaining a notarised power of attorney from England.
Once the document is received in Romania it will have to be translated into Romanian and the translation in many cases notarised. All more work for notaries.
Will the system change, I think not. It is something which Romanian lawyers accept and the notaries have no intention of relinquishing their demands for notarised powers of attorney from other jurisdictions.
If the notaries would accept more notarisation documents as allowed under The Hague Convention on Notarisation this would save time and money for clients, but I do not in reality see this happening. So the system will continue for some time to come.