According to the latest practice of LEPL National Agency of the Public Registry (Public Registry), documents issued and apostilled abroad are subject to additional verification procedure. In particular, Public Registry tends to submit relevant documents for the review of either the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia (MOFA) or relevant embassies/consulates and suspends registration process until they circulate their findings regarding authenticity of the documents in question. According to the Public Registry, emergence of this novel procedure was predicated by the increased tendencies of falsifying paperwork which were purportedly produced abroad.
Notably, no amendments have been introduced into the relevant regulatory framework of the Public Registry, which would form a basis of this new practice. In this sense, Public Registry relies merely on the general statutory provision which allows the registration authority to request additional information if deemed necessary for the purposes of the application and estimated timeline for this procedure is 15 (fifteen) days.
Setting aside the fact that increase of fraudulent activities is indeed a legitimate concern, it is clear that this procedure impairs fixed registration timelines and general foreseeability of the services offered by the registration authority. It is further uncertain if MOFA and relevant embassies/consulates are well-equipped to efficiently determine authenticity of the apostilled documents and if such cooperation is actually the most optimal solution. Furthermore, questions may arise in relation to Georgia’s loyalty with international undertakings in terms of mutual trust and recognition principle under the HCCH 1961 Apostille Convention.
In light of the above, it is interesting how the Public Registry might reflect on the feedback in response to this procedure, since it is evident that more efficient measures are needed to both mitigate the risks of fraudulent activities and balance the legitimate interests of the applicants.