What is a Notary

Notaries are principally involved with notarising and authenticating documents for use abroad.  In most countries a document notarised or authenticated by a Notary is accepted as totally valid.

The task of Notaries is to complete and make your document acceptable in the country in which it is to be used, subject to our being provided with the document in the necessary format and full details of that country’s requirements.

The oath a Notary takes when he becomes a Notary, requires him to exercise his duties faithfully and to the best of his skill and ability, and to make contracts or other documents for or between any parties without adding or altering anything that may alter the substance of the facts set out in the document without the approval of the parties.  He/She, of course, must not make any such contract or document, if undue influence or fraud is involved.

Please note that documents may need to be sent to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and/or foreign embassies or consulates. Such documents will normally be sent by ordinary post or by the document exchange service ( DX) either directly or to an agent. I cannot accept responsibility for loss resulting from the loss or delay of any documents while in transit in the post or DX.

How does a Notary authenticate or “notarise” a document?

The Notary must always verify the identity and address of the signatory and his or her capacity and intention.  In nearly every case he/she will witness the signature of the individual involved and ensure that the document is signed in accordance with English Law and also in accordance with the legal requirements of the country in which the document is required.

A Notary’s work is all about verifying facts and making checks concerning the contents of the document so that his/her act is reliable.  Those who receive and rely on a Notary’s document will assume that he/she has checked all the facts in it and has taken responsibility for them, unless he/she makes it perfectly clear that this is not the case.

Independence and Rules

A Notary is an independent official and must not do anything to compromise this situation.  He/She should not act in matters where he/she has a personal interest.  He/She is subject to professional rules (including rules on the prevention of money laundering) and standards to ensure the protection of his/her clients.  All Notaries must be properly insured against negligence and dishonesty.

Public Records

The Notary keeps originals or copies of all official documents that he/she makes, which serve as a permanent public record.  The Notary must make these available to all those who have a proper right to see them, including his/her client and any other parties involved with such documents.

Conflicts of Interest

The Notary has to act independently and impartially.  His/Her duty is to the transaction and not to the parties.  A Notary may act for both parties to a transaction contract (unlike a Solicitor) but he/she has a duty to identify potential conflicts of interest if they exist and he/she should try to resolve them, if possible, by advice or negotiation etc.

Foreign Languages and Communication

Documents that are dealt with by a Notary are normally for use overseas, and may be in a foreign language.  If so, the Notary must ensure that both he/she and the client understand the meaning and effect of the document.  Notaries do not normally give advice about the meaning or effect of a document or transaction.  It is important that the client shows the Notary any correspondence or advice that he/she has been provided with by others.