The service provided by a Notary Public is, through necessity, a formal procedure, as what the notary says and certifies is legally recognized throughout the world.
A Notary Public in England is a member of the smallest but oldest branch of the legal profession and is appointed by the profession's own Court which is at Westminster. Previously the notarial profession was divided with certain types of notaries (called scrivener notaries) only allowed to do business in the Cities of London and Westminster. However, this division has now been abolished and a notary public (also sometimes called a general notary) can now carry out his business throughout England & Wales including throughout the whole of London.
Most notaries are also solicitors, and are engaged in legal work for commercial companies engaged in international trade, and for private individuals. The primary work of a Notary is to prepare and witness the execution of documents to make the document acceptable to and receivable by other foreign jurisdictions.
By signing and sealing a document, a notary verifies the authenticity of the facts set out in that document and, apart from legalisation at either 'The Foreign and Commonwealth Office' or at a foreign embassy or consulate, no other formal requirements will be needed by the foreign jurisdiction in which the document is required.
The most common tasks of a Notary Public include:
- Preparing and witnessing powers of attorney for use overseas.
- Dealing with purchase or sale of land and property abroad.
- Providing documents to deal with the administration of the estate of people who are abroad, or owning property abroad.
- Authenticating personal documents and information for immigration or emigration purposes, or to apply to marry or to work abroad.
- Administer oaths and declarations.
- Authenticating company and business documents and transactions.
- Ensuring that the client understands the effect of the document and is willing to abide by the terms of the agreement and has capacity to do so.
Notaries also have special jurisdiction in relation to the Protest of Bills of Exchange and Protests arising from the ownership and use of ships and shipping generally.
All sorts of other specialist work are also carried out as and when required.