In addition to being a partner in the Tax & Estates Department, here at Paris Smith LLP, based in our Winchester office, I am a Notary Public.
Even those within the legal profession may be unsure what a Notary does. It is only if you have to call upon one that you may become aware of this third and oldest branch of the legal profession.
The profession and qualification of a Notary is different to that of a solicitor and barrister. A Notary is concerned with foreign transactions and legal systems. The notarial profession is at least a thousand years old and indeed part of my exam to qualify was based on Roman law which has shaped many legal systems of today, particularly in Europe. It also involved the study of shipping protests (although I have not yet had to deal with such things in practice being located in Winchester!)
More common work of a Notary is to verify everyday documents for use abroad. This may be for the sale or purchase of foreign property. An English company may need my input when it is dealing with third parties abroad such as in litigation or to open a new office or undertake other dealings there. The third parties in that country would rely on me to prove that the person or company exists, has the understanding and authority to take this action and that what he says is true. This may involve me checking with institutions here which can take a few days. Another example is that I may be asked to prepare an authority for someone to marry, or for a child to travel, abroad.
Once I add my signature and individual seal to a document, any statements I have made can be relied on by others in the transaction and not just by the immediate recipient abroad.
Each country has its own requirements for validity and one becomes familiar with these over time. If the document is in a foreign language and the person does not speak much English then a translation, and possibly also an interpreter, would be advisable.
I am happy to visit clients at home or elsewhere if requested and I often have to act quickly as a Notary must, within reason, be available when needed. You never know what type of matter will come through the door next and the variety of work and clients makes it an interesting profession to be in.
If you would like to know more about this service or require my assistance please email me.
For details of the other services I can provide please visit my profile.