Our Rural Services team is very pleased to announce that we will soon be offering notarial services. Louise Williams, who is a Rural Property Solicitor in the team already, is also a fully qualified independent Notary Public and we will shortly be adding this to the full range of services we provide to our clients. We are so pleased to be able to offer this as a service, as there are only approximately 770 Notary Publics practising across England and Wales and only a small minority of these work as part of a full-service law firm.
What is a Notary Public?
A Notary Public is a public officer and a qualified legal professional who has the authority to authenticate and witness a wide range of legal documents and certify its legitimacy so that it can be used in another country. They deal with non-contentious legal matters including preparing and witnessing documents for use abroad and the services offered relate to all manner of transactions and documents including identification documents, providing certified copies of documents, the buying and selling of foreign property, getting married in a foreign country, Powers of Attorney, foreign international business, deeds and estates.
How is a Notary Public different from a Solicitor?
Although a large number of Notary Publics are solicitors, Notary Publics are much less common within the legal sector. English and Welsh solicitors offer legal services for English and Welsh legal matters, whereas Notary Publics specialise in preparing and witnessing legal documentation for foreign (rather than domestic) use. Due to the specialist nature of their work, documents ‘notarised’ by a Notary Public are accepted, recognised and relied upon around the world. For example, if you were to buy a house in France, the lawyer in France would no doubt ask you to have your identification documents ‘notarised’, as they would not recognise a certification by a solicitor.
When might I need a Notary Public?
If you are an English or Welsh citizen and you have assets abroad, or need to manage personal affairs outside of England and Wales, you are likely to require the services of a Notary Public at some point, such as certification of your identity. In most circumstances, you will be told when you need to use a Notary Public, whether this is by a foreign government body, a foreign lawyer or another professional. This is because most English and Welsh documents will only be accepted for use abroad by foreign courts, authorities and professionals once they have been ‘notarised’, so that they are considered ‘legal’ in the relevant country and they can reference the Notary Public’s signature and seal, as a public officer, for the purposes of verification. It may also be that a foreign document needs to be prepared or signed in front of a Notary Public to be effective.
What is further legalisation?
After a Notary Public has authenticated or witnessed the relevant legal documents, the document may require an ‘Apostille’ or ‘further legalisation’ which is an additional means of authentication and it will depend on the country where the document is going to be used, to which one will be required, as requirements differ between countries. This will ensure the document meets the legal requirements of the country in question. ‘Apostilles’ and ‘further legalisation’ are carried out by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, an embassy or a consulate and the relevant institution will check whether the Notary’s signature is genuine, and once confirmed, they will add a certificate to confirm authenticity. A Notary Public will also be able to arrange to have this done, if it is required.
Who can use a Notary Public?
A Notary Public can act for both of private individuals and businesses.
Is a Notary Public Independent?
It is important to note that when a solicitor is acting in their capacity as a Notary, they do so as independent professionals, holding a public office granted and regulated by the Archbishop of Canterbury and governed by The Notaries Society, and the service they provide is provided direct to you and not by Moore Barlow LLP. Their individual Terms of Business for Notarial Services may be accessed on their personal profile on our website.
Contact Moore Barlow’s rural team
As a rural property landowner or farmer your legal needs will be diverse. Our in-depth knowledge of the rural community means we can support you with all your legal requirements. Contact the Rural Services team now.