What is a Notary?
A Notary is a qualified lawyer - a member of the third and oldest branch of the legal profession in England and Wales. Notaries are appointed by the Court of Faculties of the Archbishop of Canterbury and are subject to regulation by the Master of the Faculties. The rules which affect Notaries are very similar to the rules which affect Solicitors. They must be fully insured and maintain fidelity cover for the protection of their clients and the public. They must keep clients' money separately from their own and comply with stringent practice rules and rules relating to conduct and discipline. Notaries have to renew their practising certificates every year and can only do so if they have complied with the rules.
Notaries are primarily concerned with the authentication and certification of signatures, authority and capacity relating to documents for use abroad.
They are also authorised to conduct general legal practice (excluding the conduct of court proceedings) such as conveyancing and probate. They may exercise the powers of a Commissioner for Oaths.
The majority of Notaries Public also practise as solicitors but the Scrivener Notaries do not, nor do some 150 of the general notaries.
The Faculty Office
The Faculty Office is the administrative body of which the Master of the Faculties is head. Part of its responsibilities is the governance of the notaries. The Registrar of the Faculty Office oversees the training and qualification of notaries, has the responsibility for issuing the faculty and the annual practising certificate which, together, enable them to practise.
The Notaries Society has prepared a leaflet about the profession which we hope will be of interest. Versions in English, German, French, Italian and Spanish are available below.