Notaries in England and Wales

I’ve decided my entries are not getting shorter, so I am splitting them into one part on this page and the rest to be reached by clicking.

There are notaries in the City of London called scrivener notaries who are Latin notaries / civil-law notaries. They are full members of the Union Internationale du Notariat Latin. These notaries are trained in both law and language. They have a five-year traineeship and they have to pass two exams. They differ from German notaries in that they are not integrated into the English legal system – if you buy a house you may use a solicitor, but you don’t need a notary. However, they prepare documents that are accepted abroad. If a UK resident has property in Spain, a scrivener notary can draw up a will in Spanish that is registered in the registry of wills in Spain as if it had been made in Spain. So traditionally these are notaries in the City of London who draft documents with a foreign element or in foreign languages. They also translate.Scrivener notaries used to have the monopoly of practising as notaries within the City of London. This monopoly was removed by the Access to Justice Act 1999

‘Public notaries

202. Section 53: Abolition of scriveners’ monopoly. This section ends the statutory monopoly held by the Incorporated Company of Scriveners of London over notarial work in the central London area. This monopoly was placed on a statutory basis by section 13 of the Public Notaries Act 1801, and confirmed by section 6 of the Public Notaries Act 1843 and section 57 of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990. Section 53 provides that a notary may practise in the City of London or within three miles of its boundaries, whether or not he is a member of the Scriveners’ Company.

* Notaries authenticate certain legal documents, mainly for use abroad, by signing and sealing them. They also prepare legal documents for use abroad, undertake conveyancing and probate work, translate foreign legal documents, administer oaths and take affidavits.’

Here is a quote from the House of Lords debate:
‘I shall explain some of the background to this, as it may be that not all of us are completely familiar with the intricacies of the notarial profession. Notaries authenticate certain legal documents, mainly for use abroad, by signing and sealing them. They may also prepare legal documents for use abroad, undertake conveyancing and probate work, translate foreign legal documents, administer oaths and take affidavits. However, all notaries who wish to offer notarial services in the City of London or within three miles of its boundaries, must, under the current legislation, belong to the incorporated company, with is a livery company of the City of London.’

Here is an A – Z guide to notaries on the website of the firm John Venn

Here are other firms: Cheeswrights, de Pinna, Saville & Co.

Some of these sites define terms like apostille and legalization, which I think would make this entry too long-winded.

There is a book on the subject that contains all the details, Brooke’s Notary. I have finally decided to buy it, but I won’t have it for several weeks. There was an 11th edition in 1992 and a 12th edition in 2002. It is not cheap.
I see they also sell it in Louisiana (along with ‘How to Fingerprint’ and ‘Death of a Notary’.

Here is a useful New Zealand article about notaries.
http://www.geocities.com/noelcox/notaries_public.htm
Two quotes:
‘In many cases a notary may not practise in any other profession, but there are some important exceptions. Thus, in certain of the German länder, the notaries, called Anwaltsnotare, may also practice as legal counsel, or Rechtsanwälte.’

‘The notary is a civil lawyer practising in non-contentious matters, but does not have the same relationship with his or her clients, as does a solicitor. The notary’s responsibility is to the transaction itself, rather than to the client. The notary is at once the holder of a public office and a member of a distinct branch of the legal profession. Their office is of relatively slight importance, except in relation to foreign transactions and, in England, certain ecclesiastical matters. The notary is an officer of the law whose public office and duty it is to draw, attest or certify under his or her official seal, for use anywhere in the world, deeds and other documents.’

That is not the end of the matter, for there are three types of notary in England: scrivener notaries, general notaries (normally solicitors) and ecclesiastical notaries (the last deal only with Church of England matters; district notaries were abolished in 1990).
For more information, see an article in German (also here) by Volker G. Heinz of Haarmann Hemmelrath, with English version (I could open only the Google html file, not the PDF).

Diese Site informiert sehr umfassend auf Deutsch über die englischen Notare, mit Leseempfehlungen. (Dort findet man auch den Artikel „Was ist eigentlich ein Notar? über deutsche Notare).
Ähnliche Informationen fand ich in Gerd H. Langhein, Kollisionsrecht der Registerurkunden. Anglo-amerikanische notarielle Beglaubigungen, Bescheinigungen und Belehrungen im deutschen Registerrecht, 1995, eine veröffentlichte Dissertation, ISBN 3 7890 3861 X
Hier verteidigt Heinz die englischen Notare gegen einen Angriff auf ihre Ehre!

Someone at the ATA legal translators’ conference in Jersey City asked whether the documents drawn up by scrivener notaries are recognized by courts of law as evidence. The answer is yes, although as far as English courts of law are concerned, there is more of an emphasis on oral testimony – but they are certainly recognized by foreign courts.

1 thought on “Notaries in England and Wales

  1. True, Margaret. But don’t forget that a transfer or conveyance of land in GB can be ‘executed’ -i.e. signed – only by a solicitor, defined in the Law Society’s Standard Conditions of Sale – prev. National Conditions of Sale – as including a notary or barrister. We’ll forget licensed conveyancers for now.

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