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ISLAMABAD: The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has taken major measures to facilitate foreign companies having business connections in Pakistan by abolishing the requirement of authentication/attestation of their foreign documents by the Pakistani Missions/Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Former chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Shabbar Zaidi on Wednesday explained in detail “Adoption of Hague Apostille Convention 1961 & amendments made in the Companies Regulations” by the SECP.

According to the top chartered accountant, in line with the obligations as contracting state of the said Convention, concerned authorities of Pakistan will now accept the Foreign Apostille Certificates issued by the members/contracting States of the convention from the date of entry into force i.e. 9th March 2023, without any requirement of attestation from Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Pakistan Missions abroad.

The process of issuance of “Apostille Certificates” by Pakistan will also commence in a few months upon completion of necessary legislation and other requirements, Shabbar Zaidi said.

However, the normal Attestation Services will continue as usual at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Camp Offices and Pakistan Missions abroad. This measure will facilitate foreign companies having business connections in Pakistan as the requirement of authentication of documents by the Pakistani Mission will now not be required. The apostilled documents of the foreign entities will be accepted by the Pakistan authorities.

Former FBR chairman said that the SECP has issued two notifications on May 3, 2023: SRO 530 and 532(I)/2023. These notifications have amended Companies (Incorporation) Regulations 2017 and Foreign Companies Regulations 2018. The Companies (Incorporation) Regulations 2017 deal with the formalities, process and documents to be furnished for incorporating of Pakistani companies. Rule 15 of that regulation deals with the information that has to be provided if the subscriber of the company is a foreign company.

Under that regulation, a foreign company has to present certain foreign documents to SECP for that purpose. The requirements of the documents have remained the same however a concept and process of “appostillation” has been introduced.

Similarly, under Foreign Companies Regulation 2018 there are requirements for foreign companies under Sections 435 and 436 of the Companies Act, 2017 to file certain foreign documents. The concept of “appostillation” has been introduced in this case also.

Both these amendments are the consequence and adoption and entry in force of the Hague Apostillation Convention 1961 by the Government of Pakistan on March 9, 2023.

The documents referred to in both the regulations are certified to be a true copy by the public officer in the country where the foreign company or foreign body corporate is incorporated to whose custody the original is committed; or certified to be a true copy by a Notary public of the country where the foreign company or foreign body corporate is incorporated; or certified to be a true copy by an affidavit of a responsible officer of the foreign company or foreign body corporate in the country where the company is incorporated; or apostillised by the designated competent authority of the state of origin of the foreign public document, who have acceded to the Hague Convention abolishing the requirement of legalisation for foreign public documents (Apostille Convention) of 1961 and such state is also recognised by the Government of Pakistan for receiving of apostillised documents. In effect both the regulations relate to foreign companies having business connections in Pakistan.

Shabbar Zaidi stated that “apostille” is a form of authentication issued to documents for use in countries that participate in the Hague Convention of 1961. If the country of intended use does not participate in the Hague Convention, documents being sent to that country can obtain a Certificate of Authentication.

If the Convention applies between two states, an apostille issued by the state of origin is sufficient to certify the document, and removes the need for further certification by the destination state.

Top tax expert added that the government of Pakistan has acceded to the Hague Convention abolishing the requirement of legalisation for Foreign Public Documents (Apostille Convention) of 1961.

The convention shortens the public document authentication process to a single formality i.e. issuance of an authentication certificate called as “Apostille” by the designated authority of the country where the document was issued. Thus foreign public documents authenticated by Apostille can be directly presented to the concerned authorities without any other attestation requirement, Shabbar Zaidi added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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