Notaries: How do they differ from other attorneys?
While most legal matters can be attended to by attorneys, some matters can only be dealt with by notaries. A notary is also an attorney, but has undertaken certain further studies, passed further exams and brought an application to the High Court to be admitted as a notary.
A notary is subject to strict norms in respect of the duties involved, and is also subject to the highest degree of good faith and a standard of action and conduct which will justify the trust placed in the notary. A notary must be impartial, credible, responsible and independent.
Other attorneys make use of the services of notaries for a variety of things, such as for notarial cessions of Exclusive Use Areas, but the public will usually only require the services of a notary in very specific cases, the most notable ones being Antenuptial Contracts and the authentication of a signature or document for use abroad.
Most married couples will have an Antenuptial Contract in place. For those soon to get married, an Antenuptial Contract is an agreement that you and your fiancé enter into to arrange your matrimonial property system in such a way to suit your circumstances and to protect yourselves from creditors. This is signed by both parties in the presence of a notary, and then registered at the Deeds Office. (Click here to find out more).
The other instance when you may require the services of a notary is when documents, such as a copy of an ID or a Power of Attorney, must be sent abroad. These will usually only be accepted abroad if they have been notarised. A commissioner’s certification will in these instances not suffice. A notary, however, can prepare a certificate in which the notary confirms the authenticity of the document or the signature. In other words, the notary confirms that he saw the original document, or confirms that he verified the signatory’s identity as well as saw the signatory sign the document.
The notary’s signature is then in turn verified by the High Court by way of an apostille, and the documents are ready to be sent abroad.
As was said by Justice Solomon in 1909: “The presumption is that every statement in a notarial deed is true and that all proper solemnities have been observed by the notary.”
Lili Von Geyso | Senior Associate
Areas of Expertise: Litigation, Deceased Estates, Contractual Law, Labour Law, Notarial, Immigration Law
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)