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Why a Notary? It is almost always the case that you have been asked to see a notary because you have a document that needs to be used abroad. Seeing a notary is never a mere rubber-stamping exercise. The international duty of a Notary involves a high standard of care.  This is not only towards the client but also to anyone who may rely on the document and to Governments or officials of other countries.  These people are entitled to assume that a Notary will ensure full compliance with the relevant requirements both here and abroad; and to rely on the Notary’s register and records. Great care is essential at every stage to minimise the risks of errors, omissions, alterations, fraud, forgery, money laundering, the use of false identity, and so on.


I offer appointments during business hours and by arrangement outside of business hours where necessary. I can also make home visits and can visit corporate clients at their place of business. If the notarial appointments take place outside of my office I will make an additional charge to cover travelling time and expenses. I will confirm what that will be beforehand. Occasionally I may not be able to see you within the time frame you require, or I may decide that I am not able to act for you in which case I will advise you that that is the case and will provide you with the necessary information to locate an alternative notary.


  1. Signatures: The Notary should normally witness your signature. Please do not sign the document in advance of your appointment with me.
  1. Papers to be sent to me in advance: It will save time, expense and mistakes if, as long before the appointment as possible, you can let me have the originals or photocopies of:
  • The documents to be notarised;
  • Any letter or other form of instruction which you have received about what has to be done with the documents;
  • Your evidence of identification.
  1. Identification: I will need you to bring to our meeting, in order to deal with formal identification, the original of (in preferred order):
  • Your current passport and
  • Your current driving licence (with photo) or your national identity card

If none of the above are available, please bring at least two of the following:

  • A current government or police issue certificate bearing a photo or other formal means of identification;
  • A utility bill, credit card or bank statement showing your current address which should not be more than 3 months old or council tax bill;

You must also bring any other means of ID which may be referred to in the papers sent to you as being required, such as a foreign Identity Card. I may also ask to see further evidence of identity such as marriage certificates etc but will advise you if this if necessary, once I can consider what services you require.

  1. Proof of names: In a case where the name on the document is different from the name you are currently using, or where there has been a variation in the form of spelling of the name over the years, please provide me as appropriate with Certificates of Birth, Marriage or Divorce Decree or Change of Name Deed showing all the different names that you use.  If there has been a change of name, then I will need to see a copy of the Deed Poll or Statutory Declaration which dealt with it. If you are at all unsure about what you need to do, we can discuss that further.


  1. Advice on the document: If you bring a document to me for authorisation as a Notary, I will advise you as to the formalities required for completing it. However, I will not be attempting to advise you about the transaction itself. That is the role of the foreign lawyer advising you.


  1. Written Translations: It is essential that you understand what you are signing.
  • If the document is in a foreign language which you do not understand sufficiently, I may have to insist that a translation is obtained. I can arrange for a translation. If I need to do that for you, there will be a further fee payable and I will provide you with details of this for you to agree before any steps are taken to commission that translation.
  • If you arrange for a professional translation yourself, the translator should add his/her name, address, relevant qualification, and a certificate stating something similar to the following: “Document X is a true and complete translation of document Y, to which this translation is attached.” Professional translators will be used to dealing with requests like this.
  1. Oral Interpreter: If you and I cannot understand each other because of a language difficulty, we may have to make arrangements for a competent interpreter to be available at our interview and this may involve a further fee.


  1. Companies, Partnerships etc: If a document is to be signed by you on behalf of a company, a partnership, a charity, club or other incorporated body, there are further requirements on which I may have to insist. We will be able to discuss what these may entail when you make your initial enquiry. It is helpful for these matters to be attended to prior to our meeting. If you are uncertain about what is needed, please telephone me.


In each case please note that I will need to see:

  1. Evidence of identity of the authorised signatory (as listed above).
  2. A copy of the current letterhead (showing the registered office if it is a company).
  3. A Letter of Authority, Minute, Board Meeting minutes, Resolution or Power of Attorney, authorising you to sign the document.

Additionally, companies: In all instances I will be carrying out various company searches, which may have an effect on the level of fees charged. I will for instance be looking at the Certificate of Incorporation and of any Change of Name, a copy of the Memorandum and Articles of Association, Details of Directors and Secretaries. It is worthwhile you checking with Companies House that all of your company records are up to date.

Additionally, partnerships, clubs, etc: A Partnership Agreement; or relevant Trust Deed; or Charter; or Constitution/Rules will need to be looked at by me.

  1. Notarial charges and expenses: Details of my charges are set out below. Please note that if I have to make payments on your behalf such as legalisation fees, translator or interpreter fees, or other costs such as travelling expenses, your approval to these will be obtained and you are normally required to make payment in advance of any such amounts.


Charges: If the matter is relatively simple and straightforward, I will endeavour to charge a fixed fee to include disbursements such as legalisation fees, postage, consular agent fees, courier fees, travelling expenses, translating costs and so on. I do not charge VAT. I will make this clear to you once I have established what services you require from me.

For more complicated or time-consuming matters, the fee will be based on my hourly rate of £230 subject to a minimum fee of £75.00 plus disbursements. The fee charged may include time spent on preliminary advice, drafting and preparation time, making and receiving telephone calls, correspondence written and received in all formats, arranging legalisation and record keeping.

As soon as I am clear what services you require, I will provide you with details as to what my services will cost. I will agree those fees with you before I undertake any work.

Disbursements: Some documents require legalisation before they will be accepted for use in the receiving jurisdiction by obtaining an apostille through the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For some countries, additional legalisation is required through the relevant embassy or consulate. I can arrange this for you and generally use a Consular Agent based in London, to do that work. The cost of legalisation in this matter, including agent’s fees and postage to and from the legalising authority will be confirmed to you as soon as I know what services are required. The cost of posting the documents to you/another person by Royal Mail Special Delivery which is tracked and signed will be confirmed to you once it is clear what is required.

Payment can be made by cash/cheque made payable to Joanne Cowie Notary Public Ltd and by credit or debit card and bank transfer.  Payment of my fee and disbursements is due when the document has been prepared which I may retain pending payment in full.

If the work you have instructed me to do is not completed because you have terminated your instructions, a proportionate part of the quoted fee will be payable and the whole of any fee payable to a third party which has been incurred.

Occasionally unforeseen or unusual issues arise during the course of the matter which may result in a revision of my fee estimate. Examples of this could include where additional documents are required to be notarised, additional translations or legalisations are needed to meet the requirements of the receiving jurisdiction, third party fees are adjusted to reflect external factors such as fuel price changes and so on. I will notify you of any changes in the fee estimate as soon as possible.

  1. Typical Stages of a notarial transaction: Each notarial matter is different and the requirements will vary according to whether the client is a private individual or a company. Some of the typical key stages are likely to include:
  • Receiving and reviewing the documents to be notarised together with any instructions you may have received;
  • Liaising with your legal advisors or other bodies to obtain the necessary documentation to deal with the document (e.g. information from Companies House or foreign registries, powers of attorney etc);
  • Checking the identity, capacity and authority of the person who is to sign the document;
  • If a document is to be certified, checking with the issuing authorities that the document/award is genuine. In the case of academic awards, this would entail checking with the appropriate academic institutions;
  • Meeting with the signatory to verify their identity and to ascertain that they understand what they are signing and that they are doing so of their own free will and ensuring that the document is executed correctly;
  • Drafting and affixing or endorsing a notarial certificate to the document;
  • Arranging for the legalisation of the document as appropriate and
  • Arranging for the storage of copies of all notarised documents in accordance with the requirements of the Notarial Practice Rules 2019
  1. Notarial Records and Data Protection: When I carry out my work for you, I am required to make an entry in a formal register, which is kept by me as a permanent record.  I will retain a copy of the notarised documentation with that record. My practice is a registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office. Personal data received from clients is held securely and not capable of being accessed externally. Data collected as part of notarial records is used solely for the purposes of meeting our professional legal responsibilities as Notaries Public. For full details of my PRIVACY POLICY and data processing terms please see my website:
  1. Insurance: In the interests of my clients I maintain professional indemnity insurance at a level of at least £1,000,000.00 per claim. I hereby give you notice that I limit my liability for any claim made in respect of negligence and/or breach of contract, including in respect of any omission or in any way arising from each notarial matter to a maximum of £1,000,000.00.
  1. Termination/ Your Right to Cancel: You may terminate your instructions to me at any time by giving me reasonable written notice. All fees and disbursements incurred up to the date of termination will be charged.
  1. I do not accept any liability for losses caused by delays in respect of matters which are outside my control, for example delays by couriers or postal services. In addition, I do not accept any liability for losses caused by reliance upon for example, information obtained from clients, or from public bodies or authorised providers of information, for example HEDD (Higher Education Degree Database) which proves to be inaccurate or fraudulent.

Consumer Cooling Off Cancellation Period –Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 (“CCR”):

Where the CCR apply (typically where you are an individual consumer and my contract with you was concluded either at or following a meeting with you or by a form of distance communication) you have a cancellation period of 14 days after the date you sign my retainer letter or the date on which you continue to give me instructions, whichever is earlier.

You can cancel your contract within the cancellation period by giving me a clear statement and I will reimburse all payments received from you by the same method that you used, at no cost to you, without undue delay, and not later than 14 days after the day on which you inform me of the cancellation.

If you ask me to begin work during the cancellation period, you can still cancel but you must pay me an amount in proportion to the work which I have performed and this proportion will not be reimbursed to you.

  1. Termination by me: I reserve the right to terminate my engagement by you if I have good reason to do so, for example, if you do not pay a bill or comply with my request for a payment on account or you fail to give me the co-operation which I am reasonably entitled to expect.
  1. Complaints: My notarial practice is regulated through the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury:

The Faculty Office

1, The Sanctuary


London  SW1P 3JT

Telephone 020 7222 5381                 Email: [email protected]     Website:

If you are dissatisfied about the service you have received please do not hesitate to contact me.

If I am unable to resolve the matter you may then complain to the Notaries Society of which I am a member, who have a Complaints Procedure which is approved by the Faculty Office.  This procedure is free to use and is designed to provide a quick resolution to any dispute.

In that case please write (but do not enclose any original documents) with full details of your complaint to :-

The Secretary of The Notaries Society

Old Church Chambers

23 Sandhill Road

St James

Northampton.  NN5 5LH

Email [email protected]                   Tel : 01604 758908

If you have any difficulty in making a complaint in writing please do not hesitate to call the Notaries Society/the Faculty Office for assistance.

Finally, even if you have your complaint considered under the Notaries Society Approved Complaints Procedure, you may at the end of that procedure, or after a period of 6 months from the date you first notified me that you were dissatisfied, make your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman*, if you are not happy with the result :

Legal Ombudsman

P O Box 6806

Wolverhampton   WV1 9WJ

Tel : 0300 555 0333            Email:  [email protected] Website:

If you decide to make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman you must refer your matter to the Legal Ombudsman :-

  • Within six months of receiving a final response to your complaint and
  • Six years from the date of act/omission; or
  • Three years from when you should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint (only if the act or omission took place more than six years ago)

The act or omission, or when you should have reasonably known there was cause for complaint, must have been after 5th October 2010.

*certain kinds of commercial entities are not eligible to make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman – please refer to the Legal Ombudsman Scheme Rules or consult the Faculty Office.

Please note that my practice as a Notary Public is entirely separate from my practice as a Solicitor with Latimer Hinks Solicitors of Darlington, County Durham, England.

I hope that these notes are of help to you in understanding what is expected of each of us.  Should you have any questions or queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me.