What is a Notary Public?
A Notary Public is a qualified lawyer and part of the third and oldest branch of the legal profession in the UK. Notaries are appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and are regulated by the Faculty Office.
A central part of the notary’s role is the validation or authentication of legal documents for use in other parts of the world. In addition, they provide documentary evidence in the form of a notarial certificate which may be used or required by a foreign court or official body.
Anna Cattee is Ironmonger Curtis’ resident Notary and is an experienced commercial solicitor as well as a Notary Public.
Anna is a partner in our Sheffield company commercial department.
What does a Notary Public do?
English notaries are mainly used for the authentication of signatures and documents for use overseas.
Notarial services for individuals
As the number of people who work, live and invest abroad has grown over the years, so has the need for notaries. Here are some examples of how Anna can help:
- Certifying university degree certificates and educational qualifications for use with foreign job applications;
- Witnessing powers of attorney for use overseas. This is a common requirement for individuals purchasing or selling property abroad;
- Preparing certificates of freedom to marry where individuals wish to celebrate their marriage abroad;
- Notarising documents to deal with the administration of the estates of people who are located abroad, such as birth, marriage and death certificates;
- Execution of wills for jurisdictions that require a notary, for example Spain and Jersey;
- Administering oaths, affidavits and statutory declarations for use abroad;
- Certifying identity documents such as passports and driving licences.
Notarial services for Companies
English companies who trade internationally may find they need a notary for a wide range of documents used in international trade. The following are examples of documents that Anna has notarised for corporate clients:
- Authenticating constitutional documents, such as certificates of incorporation, change of name certificates, resolutions and articles of association;
- Powers of attorney where a company wishes to appoint an individual abroad to act on the company’s behalf;
- Witnessing documents signed by directors for use abroad.
The person or institution requesting a document to be notarised may also require the signature and seal of an English notary to be authenticated by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, this is called an Apostille.
Depending on the country, it may then also need to be sent to the Embassy or Consulate of the country in which the document is to be used. This process is known as legalisation.
Anna will be able to advise in advance what form of legalisation is required and the cost.
Before a Notary can witness your signature to a document, she has to be satisfied about:
- Your identity. Please bring your passport and a recent utility bill. This is usually conclusive proof that you are who you say you are! If the document declares that you are married, you should produce your marriage certificate as evidence of your marriage.
- Your legal capacity. i.e. that you are over the age of 18 and not subject to any disability that might affect the transaction.
- Your authority, if you are acting on someone else’s behalf. This authority could be a Power of Attorney or a company appointment. Please speak with the notary before your appointment if you are acting on someone else’s behalf.
- Your understanding of the document to be signed and your willingness to be bound by it. This can is not possible if the document produced is in a foreign language with no English translation. Therefore, you must request the document to be written in English or both the language of the country where it is being used and English. Please speak with the notary before your appointment if the document is not in English.
Please note that it is not the Notary’s responsibility to advise you about the law of the country where the document is to be used, nor about the legal effect of the document in that country.
The Notary will require a copy of any document to be notarised twenty-four hours or so in advance or any arranged meeting to enable her to review the documents. Sometimes the documents are incorrect or need amending on then any booked meeting may need to be rearranged.
The duty of a Notary Public involves a high standard of care and is not just a ‘rubber-stamping’ exercise. Once a copy of the document or description of the document is received, Anna will be able to provide you with a quote.