What is a notary?

An English Notary Public is a member of the smallest, but oldest, branch of the legal profession and is appointed by the profession’s own Court, which is known as the Court of Faculties.  

A Notary Public is an officer of the law who holds an internationally recognised public office. The signature and seal of a Notary is recognised in most countries of the world as being evidence of the intervention of a responsible and trusted legal officer

The work of a Notary always involves an international connection. It will typically involve the authentication and certification of deeds and other documents, in order to make them fully and sufficiently proved to the satisfaction of any person, corporation or government organisation anywhere in the world. The notary’s prime responsibility is to ensure that his notarial act may be relied upon by anyone in the world who may receive the document. This differs from the responsibilityof a solicitor whose main duty is to his client. 

An English Notary Public may be described as a specialist lawyer whose main business is to verify the proper execution of English documentation going abroad and, where necessary, to issue an appropriate certificate. That certificate, or in some cases the original document itself, will be signed by the Notary and he will also attach his Notarial Seal of Office which is personal to him and totally unique.

The duty of a Notary Public extends not only to the client signing a document but also to those people, institutions or foreign governments who are relying on those document. This means that that the notary observes a high standard of care and the sealing of a document is not merely a “rubber stamping exercise”. The Notary will, therefore, verify the information given by the client where possible and issue an appropriate certificate to this effect.