Important Facts About a Public Notary

Important Facts About a Public Notary

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Published by TOP4 Team

You may have heard the terms "Notary," "Notary Public" and "Public Notary" before, but have yet to understand what they are and what they do. For a quick overview of important things to keep in mind about these public officials, read on and discover 10 key points:

1. The three terms mentioned above refer to a single person and can be used interchangeably. In Australia, a notary public is a public officer (typically a senior legal practitioner or solicitor) that is appointed for life by the State or Territory Supreme Court (or, in the case of Queensland, an English Archbishop). He is given statutory powers to administer oaths, witness documents, and perform other administrative functions both national and international in nature.

2. A notarial act (preparing, authenticating, attesting, verifying, witnessing and certifying originals and copies of legal documents) is recognised as a "certification of authenticity" both locally and overseas.

3. In Australia, Justices of the Peace can also perform notarial tasks, but keep in mind that they are not permitted to witness documents that will be used in foreign countries.

4. Public notaries affix their official stamp or seal onto documents immediately under, adjacent to, or as near as possible to their signatures. The seal is usually impressed onto a red sticker.

5. The office and seal of a Public notary is internationally recognised, under the Hague Convention.

6. These seals, stamps or signatures are registered with the Public Notaries' State or Territory Supreme Court and their local Notary Society (if such exists and the Notary is a member).

7. Also, the seals and signatures are recorded in an official database held by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which is authorised to issue Apostille or Authentication Certificates which certify that the said seals and signatures are genuine.

8. The principal functions of a Notary Public include:

  • Attesting documents and certifying their due execution for use in Australia and foreign countries

  • Preparing and certifying documents (wills, deeds, powers of attorney, contracts) for local and international use

  • Administering oaths for local and international documents

  • Witnessing signatures to statutory declarations, affidavits, contracts, powers of attorney for local and international use

  • Certifies copy documents for local and international use

  • Exemplifies official documents for international use

  • Prepares ships' protests

  • Notes and protests bills of exchange

9. In addition, notaries should perform the following actions when applicable:

  • Confirm a signatory's true identity

  • Determine that a signatory is not suffering any legal incapacity (physical injury, mental or physical illness, advanced age, congenital disability, or any apparent intellectual deficiency)

  • Ensure a signatory's full understanding of the nature and effect or a document's contents

  • Ascertain that a signatory acting as an official representative of a different party (e.g., a company) has that party's authority to sign on their behalf · Refuse notary services if the document in question constitutes an unlawful or fraudulent act

10. Public Notaries typically charge fees for their professional services on an hourly basis.


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