German law requires important agreements and declarations to be recorded by a Notary (details here). Parties are sometimes confused or even annoyed that they do not receive the original signed document or even a certified copy of the signed deed, but “only” a so called Ausfertigung. According to the Beurkundungsgesetz (German Act on Notarial Deeds) the signed original (Urschrift) remains with the notary (section 45 I BeurkG). The parties are being handed either an Ausfertigung or an Abschrift. The two should not be confused.
German law distinguishes between a simple copy (Abschrift or Kopie) and what is called an “Ausfertigung” (section 47 BeurkG), the latter constituting a representation of the original document with the notarial certificate that there really exists a duly signed document with the same content as the Ausfertigung. While an Ausfertigung proves that there is a duly signed agreement, a simple copy does not.
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The law office Graf & Partners was established in 2003 and has many years of experience with British-German and US-German legal matters. If you wish us to advise or represent you please contact German solicitor Bernhard Schmeilzl, LL.M. (Leicester) at +49 941 785 30 53 or English solicitor Elissa Jelowicki in Munich at +49 89 55054676. Or simply write an e-mail to mail(at)grafpartner.com.