Notary Public

Very few people (including solicitors) know anything about Notaries Public, that is of course until they need one. 

Notaries form a totally independent branch of the legal profession, at present there are less than one thousand in this country. 

Although most Notaries Public also practice as solicitors, their practice as Notaries Public is quite separate from that of solicitors and is not controlled by the Solicitors Regulation Authority or the rules affecting solicitors. 

The appointment and regulation of Notaries is controlled by the Court Faculties of the Archbishop of Canterbury. 

Notary’s are mainly concerned with foreign matters and with the verification of documents and information that will be used in other countries of the world for clients who have business or property overseas or who are involved in litigation in foreign courts, foreign adoptions and shipping matters. 

The Notary’s relationship with a client is not quite the same as a relationship between a solicitor and client. The Notary will advise and assist the client like any other lawyer, but when he is carrying out his public duty he can be said to have a responsibility to the transaction itself, rather than only to an individual person or client.

A Notary's signature and seal is recognised as being the evidence of a responsible officer in most countries of the World.

BHP and its predecessors have had Notaries in the firm since 1947. 

At the present time there is one Notary in the firm. Peter Blackett has acted in the capacity of a Notary for twenty-four years.

The first time most people come across the word “Notary Public” is when they attempt to purchase a property abroad

Whether it be in Europe or in North America the lawyers in those countries often send the clients a package of documents usually by courier or special delivery informing them that they must have the documents signed in front of a Notary Public and return them (by courier of course) before a date, about two days before they received the original package! 

When confronted with this situation the Notary gets a panicked telephone call following the clients scramble through Yellow Pages or after telephoning the embassy of the country where the document is needed. 

The Notary’s first task is then to identify the client usually by production of a passport and then to ensure the person fully understands the document before witnessing the signature and affixing the Notaries official seal. 

If the document is in a foreign language in which the client and the Notary are not familiar, a translation must be obtained from a qualified Translator. 

The Notary then makes a copy of the document, “notes” the document in his or her Formal Notarial Register and checks to ensure that legalisation is required at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or the Embassy of the Country where the document is to be used. 

The Notary’s specimen signature and official seal is lodged at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and most embassies. 

In cases where companies are involved the Notary must check with the Companies Registry that the Company exists and that it has power to enter into the document and that the Officers of the Company purporting to sign the document have been properly appointed. 

Once the document whether signed personally, or on behalf of company has been witnessed and sealed by the Notary (and if necessary legalised) it is recognised as authentic in the country where it is to be used. 

For further information about our notarial services please contact Peter Blackett on  0800 590 019.

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