What is a Notary Public?

It is often the case that you don’t know about something until you need it!

This is regularly the case when someone is asked to go and see a Notary or get some documents notarised for the first time.

It may help to have some background.

There are three branches of the legal profession in England and Wales. Solicitors, Barristers and Notaries Public.

I am a Notary Public and a Solicitor. People often ask me what is the difference between a Notary Public and a Solicitor.

Notaries are regulated by the Master of Faculties and are the only people authorised under the Legal Services Act to carry out notarial activities.

Carrying out notarial activities is different from the practice of other lawyers in that it primarily involves the production of notarial acts for use in foreign countries.

As a Notary, I exercise this public office in accordance with the Oath I swore at the time my Notarial Faculty was granted. As a Durham city resident I swore my oath before the Dean of Durham Cathedral. Notaries can choose the design of their seal and specimen signatures and seals for all Notaries are registered with the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office and the embassies of foreign countries in London. This enables our professional credentials to be authenticated.

I can offer appropriate notarial services to any person lawfully and reasonably requiring them. I have professional indemnity insurance and fidelity insurance for the protection of clients and the public.

As a Notary Public holding a practising certificate I am required to provide notarial services to the public, subject to the above comments and subject to legislative requirements.

A Notary’s independence and impartiality are vital to the office.

A Notary is a public certifying officer when dealing with authentication work.

I have to comply with stringent practice rules as well as conduct and discipline rules as a Notary Public. I am separately regulated in my practice as a Solicitor.


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