by Walter Prochorenko
If you are an American, you are in for a business culture shock when dealing with Ukrainian Notaries. Even if you are from Western Europe or Asia, you will be surprised at the power these notaries wield.
Being a Public Notary myself, my first experiences with Ukrainian brethren of the "fast stamp" were real eye openers. The first thing that a Ukrainian notary will always tell you is that it is impossible for him or her to notarize something (unless they prepared it). They will always find fault with your documents even if your documents were prepared by the most proficient of attorneys. (Be aware that in Ukraine it is the Notaries that wield more power - not the attorneys).
Unlike in the US or in most other countries, where the notary only certifies the person's signature and ensures that that is the person signing the document, in Ukraine, the Notary seems to want to ensure also the correctness of the documents, the history of the company, and other seemingly irrelevant facts. Sometimes after having the documents rejected by a Ukrainian notary for the 50th time, I wonder if they are in business or they just want to show their powers of rejection.
Yet - despite all this "hoopla" about correctness, I have personally seen and been on the losing end of improprieties committed by Notaries. In one instance, a notary certified my signature on over 7 documents while I was out of the country. The documents in effect gave all the powers in my company to my former partners. In another instance, my Notary was found guilty of improperly certifying documents when she made a notation on the documents after the parties had already signed. (There was nothing improper about this, but since this was not specifically permitted in the codes, she was found to be wrong). In both instances, corruption most definitely had an effect, although there is no way to prove these things.
When dealing with Notaries, I would strongly suggest you find a good "Public" notary in lieu of a Private one. The private ones are not as well respected as the Public ones. Secondly, establish a good relationship with your notary. (This will at least prevent you from standing in line any time you want to get something notarized). Unfortunately, not many Public notaries will make an effort to visit your office. Private notaries will. Lastly, bring as many documents with you as possible. Bring your attorney, your accountant, and a good negotiator. This may prevent you from getting rejected on the first go and wasting your valuable time.