Notarial Standards

Dear Notaries

It has come to the Council’s attention that some Notaries continue letting the standard of our work slip.

In particular we have seen and been told (by the Department of Internal Affairs Authentication Unit amongst others) of two main concerns:

Witnessing Documents
Some notaries have completed a document with just their signature and seal, no other information, or just the word “witness”.  That is not sufficient for a proper Notarial Act.  There must be some description of who you are and what you have done.  That does not need to be a book, but must make it clear what you have done.  Sometimes there is a sufficient Jurat or certificate on the form.  Otherwise you must prepare one on the form or on an attached page.  Please see the traditional and plain English options/examples in the For Notaries/Precedents section on the Society’s website to use or adapt according to your document/Act. (You will need to log in with your username and password).

Multi-page documents
If the document you are witnessing or certifying is multiple pages you must take steps to ensure all the pages will remain part of/can be identified as part of the document.  This can be done by:

a) binding them with the traditional ribbon and seal.  (See the video tutorial on the Society’s website Training Videos); or

b) if you do not bind documents you MUST mark every page.  You do that when taking an affidavit.  The same must be done for your Notary document.  This can be simply the applicant(s) and you signing, with your stamp and emboss (without a seal), every page.

You otherwise expose yourself to a complaint or civil action if the document is later fraudulently altered.

Please see the attached internal guide that the Authentication Unit use when your document(s) go to them for an Apostille or Authentication.  Aside from our need to maintain our standards, you are (at least) going to inconvenience the applicant in those cases if the documents are rejected by the Authentication Unit or the recipient.

Don Thomas
on behalf of the Council

Attached – DIA checklist Notarial Acts 2022