INTRODUCTION: These notes are intended to help you understand the work that the Notary Public has to do. I hope that they may save time and expense, both for you and me. They are not exhaustive, and not every point covered will apply in every case.
WHO ARE NOTARY PUBLICS? : A Notary is a qualified lawyer - a member of the third and oldest branch of the legal profession in the United Kingdom. We are appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and are subject to regulation by the Court of Faculties. The rules which affect Notaries are very similar to the rules which affect Solicitors. We must be fully insured maintaining cover for the protection of our clients and the public. We must keep clients' money separately from the business and comply with stringent rules of practice, conduct and discipline. A Notary Public in England has many of the same responsibilities as Notaries in European countries. Anyone who has dealings with a Notary Public in the USA may be surprised at the different formalities and cost over here. The role and responsibility of the Notary Public in the United States is very different.
NOT A MERE RUBBER-STAMPING EXERCISE: The international duty of a Notary involves a high standard of care. This is not only towards you as the client but also to anyone who may rely on the document and to Governments or officials of other countries. These people are entitled to assume that a Notary will ensure full compliance with the relevant requirements both here and abroad and to rely on the Notary's register and records.
Great care is essential at every stage to minimise the risk of errors, omissions, alterations, fraud, forgery, money laundering, the use of false identity, and so on.
As a Notary, I have to act independently; my overriding duty is "to the transaction".
SIGNATURE: The Notary should normally witness your signature. Please do not jump the gun by signing the document in advance of your appointment with me.
PAPERS TO BE SENT TO ME IN ADVANCE: It can save time, expense, and mistakes if, as long before the appointment as possible, you can let me have the originals or photocopies of:
the documents to be notarised; any letter or other form of instruction which you have received about what has to be done with the documents; your evidence of identification.
IDENTIFICATION: I will need you to produce by way of formal identification the original of (in preferred order):
your current passport (or, if not available);
a current new driving licence (with photo). [Both parts of the driving licence should be produced];
if neither of the above is available, at least two of the following
a current old style driving licence (without photo); or other formal means of identification;
a utility bill showing your current address;
any other means of ID, which may be referred to in the papers, sent to you as being required.
If any of the above does not incorporate a good photographic likeness, please be ready to let me have a recent photograph for me to retain with my records.
PROOF OF NAMES: In a case where the name on the document is different from the name you are currently using, or there has been a variation in the form of spelling of the name over the years, please provide me with, e.g., Certificates of Birth, Baptism, Marriage, or a Divorce Decree. If there has been a change of name, then I will need to see a copy of the Deed Poll or Statutory Declaration, which dealt with it.
CHAIN OF EVIDENCE: Notarisation is accepted as a safeguard under international law. The signature and seal of the Notary are recognised as a link in the chain of evidence relating to international documents. If therefore I seem to you to be a bit fussy over minor details, please understand the responsibility placed on me!
EXAMINING THE EVIDENCE: Accordingly, careful examination by the Notary is required to check whether both the document to be notarised and your personal ID are original, genuine, valid, complete, accurate, and unaltered.
INCOMPLETE DOCUMENTS: The Notary has to check that each document to be notarised is fully completed. Unfortunately, many documents produced as ready for signature have blank spaces left in them, not always intentionally! This occurs even when other lawyers or professional advisers have prepared them. If you can help in identifying the information needed to complete any blanks in documents, it will save time when we meet. However, please do not mark the document itself until I have seen it.
ADVICE ON THE DOCUMENT: If you bring a document to me for authorisation as a Notary, I will advise you as to the formalities required for completing it. However, I shall not be attempting to advise you about the transaction itself, and you must seek such advice from your own lawyers or persons asking you to have the document signed before me.
WRITTEN TRANSLATIONS: It is important that you understand what you are signing.
Sometimes a professional translation is required.
If it is in a foreign language, which you do not understand sufficiently, I may have to insist that a translation be obtained. If I arrange for a translation, a further fee will be payable.
Unless you have a good understanding of the language yourself, an informal or amateur translation is rarely satisfactory.
If you arrange for a professional translation, the translator should add his/her name, address, relevant qualification, and a certificate stating: "Document X is a true and complete translation of document Y, to which this translation is attached."
ORAL INTERPRETER: If you and I cannot understand each other because of a language difficulty, we may have to make arrangements for a competent interpreter to be available at our interview and this may involve a further fee.
COMPANIES, PARTNERSHIPS, ETC: If a document is to be signed by you on behalf of a company, a partnership, a charity, club or other incorporated body, there are further requirements on which I may have to insist. Please be prepared for these and telephone with any point of difficulty before attending on the appointment.
In each case:
Evidence of identity of the authorised signatory (as listed above).
A copy of the current letterhead (showing the registered office if it is a company).
A Letter of Authority, Minute, Resolution or Power of Attorney, authorising you to sign the document.
In some instances I may have to see a copy of the latest Annual Accounts; the latest Tax Assessment; the latest quarterly VAT Return.
Additionally, for companies:
Certificate of Incorporation and of any Change of Name.
A copy of the Memorandum and Articles of Association.
Details of Directors and Secretaries.
Additionally for partnerships, clubs, etc.
A Partnership Agreement; or relevant Trust Deed; or Charter; or Constitution/Rules.
I may have to insist on seeing originals of these documents. If you do show me photocopies, they would have to be certified on behalf of the person holding the originals and who may not be able to release them. The certificate should be in the following form:
“I certify that this (with the following pages) is a true and complete copy of the original document which is currently held by me.
Full name of signatory:
Who certifies in his/her capacity as:
Signature .................... Date . ... ........."
NOTARIAL RECORDS: When I carry out my work for you, I am required to make an entry in a formal register, which is kept by me as a permanent record. I will retain a copy of the notarised documentation with that record, and in the case of "Public" documents I will keep a copy bearing your original signature on it so I can issue further certified copies if required to do so in the future by you. I can be required to deal with queries from, e.g., foreign lawyers, Land Registries or Embassies to confirm the fact that you saw me.
I hope that these notes are of help to you in understanding what is expected of each of us.
London WC2B 6AH
Tel:- +44(0)203 321 7042