Private Lives - What is a Notary Public?


09 July 2019

A Notary Public is an officer of the law who holds an internationally recognised public office.

The main duty of a Notary is to prepare, attest, authenticate and certify deeds and other documents intended for use anywhere in the world. These documents can be both for individuals or companies.

In England and Wales, Notaries are most often concerned with the verification of documents and information that is intended to be used in other countries for clients who have business or property overseas or who are involved in litigation in foreign courts.

What does a Notary do?

Documents handled by a Notary are known as ‘notarial acts’ and Notaries must verify for each client their identity, legal capacity and understanding of the document as well as their authority if signing on behalf of another party, such as a limited company.

Notarial acts include:

  • preparing and witnessing powers of attorney for use outside the UK, and
  • authenticating company and business documents and transactions.

Are Notaries also solicitors?

In many cases Notaries are also solicitors, but this is not always the case. Notaries in fact form an independent branch of the legal profession.

Individuals who also practice as Notaries must keep the practice of any other professional or business separate from their function as a Notary, meaning that solicitors who act as Notaries do not usually give advice concerning the meaning or effect of a document. This advice should be given by an independent solicitor in the relevant jurisdiction.

Louise Long is a qualified and practising Notary Public based in our Ipswich office and regularly assists clients dealing with overseas interests, such as properties abroad.

This article is from the summer 2019 issue of Private Lives, our newsletter covering the key legal and tax issues that individuals face. To download the latest issue, please visit the newsletter section of our website. Law covered as at July 2019.

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