A public notary, also called as notary, is a public officer who serves the public through the administration of oaths and affirmations. A notary is responsible for making affidavits and statutory declarations. He/she is also involved in the authentication and execution of certain documents and so on. These acts are also known as notarisation. This article provides a guide to becoming a public notary.
Types of notaries and their respective requirements
1. Commissioners for oaths There are various classes of notaries in England and Wales. Commissioners for oaths function in the same way as barristers, solicitors, legal executives, as well as licensed conveyances, but with the exception of representing people before the courts. 2. Scrivener notaries Another group of notaries are the Scrivener notaries named after the Scriveners’ Company. The notaries belonging here are only allowed to practise notarial activities within London, within the liberties of Westminster, in Southwark and the area within three miles of the city. To be a member in this organisation, they should be appointed after a two- year apprenticeship to a practicing scrivener notary. Fluency in one or two foreign languages and familiarity with the principles and practice of foreign law are highly required. At present, it is required to earn a degree in law or to be qualified as barristers or solicitors for the past five years, after which it is necessary to obtain a Postgraduate Diploma in Notarial Practice, or a two-year distance learning course. For those who wish to continue being Scrivener notaries, they must further study foreign law, two foreign languages and be under the mentorship of active Scrivener notaries for two years. 3. Ecclesiastical notaries There are also ecclesiastical notaries. The functions of these notaries are limited only to the affairs of the Church of England. Those who are not trained barristers or solicitors, but who have an adequate understanding of the law, can become notaries as long as they pass the exams which the Master of Faculties provides. Specifically, the law requires candidates to be at least 21 years of age. They are also required to take an oath of allegiance as required in Section 7 of the Public Notaries Act of 1843. However, some exceptions may also apply.
Prescribed subjects to be taken
1. Constitutional/ Public Law 2. The Law of property 3. The Law of Contract 4. Equity and the Law of Trusts 5. Private International Law 6. Conveyancing 7. Business Law and Practice