A notary public is an official who holds a public office and, although not always a solicitor, generally speaking, is also a solicitor.
The main duties and functions of a notary are to prepare, attest, authenticate, and certify, under his signature and official seal as a notary, evidence of the matters referred to, attested, or confirmed to the public or other relevant authorities in the country where they originate from or where they are to be exhibited. The office of the notary public is recognised throughout the world, and any documentation bearing the signature and official seal of a notary is generally recognised as evidence of an impartial but responsible legal officer in most countries throughout the world, although notarial requirements and production of documents vary from country to country. Normal notarial functions include:
a) Administration of Oaths and Declarations
b) Attestation of Signature and Execution of Documents
c) Authenticating the Contents of and Execution of Documents
d) Securing and Verifying Translation of Documents with the Aid of a Translator, If Necessary
Notaries are entitled to carry out other types of work by statute, such as the drawing up of contracts, conveyancing, and probate; the preparation of wills; and, generally speaking, except in these categories, the notary is regarded as impartial and acting for both parties. They can also assist with the drawing up of powers of attorney.
As part of the requirements to authenticate notarial acts, the notary is required to obtain proof of identity to his satisfaction or at his discretion. The following forms of identification would generally be acceptable:
1) Current Passport
2) A Driving Licence - Preferably with a Photograph
3) Any Relevant Documentation, Such as a Bus Pass or Employee's Card, That Also Bears a Photograph
In the case of companies, details of authority of the official authenticating the documentation on behalf of the company, including a copy either on official headed paper signed by the company director/secretary or a copy certified board minute appointing the official/officials with the necessary authority to sign on behalf of that company, are required. It may be a requirement for the notary to attend a company board meeting if such a minute does not exist, and arrangements can be made for an out-of-office attendance for a supplemental fee.
Generally speaking, any attestation or certification can be dealt with at the first appointment. However, where documents need to be prepared, an initial appointment will be required for the preparation of any documentation, and all relevant documentation, including letters from lawyers abroad, should be produced at that time so that any initial outline requirements are dealt with in connection with the attestation/certification on the first interview. If documents are required to be prepared or amended, then a further appointment will be necessary to ensure that the correct documentation and any appendages are directly attached.
So far as notarial fees are assessed, these are mainly by reference to the time spent on the matter on the basis of an hourly charging rate, which can be supplied on request and are generally exhibited at the offices of Porter & Co. The fees will also reflect the number of documents requiring attestation/certification and the number of signatories for which attestation/certification is required. The rates are generally reviewed periodically, on an annual basis, and in accordance with The Notaries Society guidelines, which stipulate that fees should be fair and reasonable in regard to the circumstances of the case. These fees may include additional elements to reflect other factors, including speed, complexity, or special knowledge required.
If an appointment is cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice, a charge will be issued, and, if an out-of-office attendance is required, an additional charge will be issued according to the time involved. Separate charges are also issued for disbursements or expenses incurred, such as legalisation fees incurred on behalf of the clients. VAT will normally be charged at the current rate on the fees but not on the disbursements. It is not usually possible to give a precise estimate without having seen any documentation, but every effort will be made to give a general indication as to the likely level of fees involved on any particular transaction.