There are currently 870 (approximately) General Notaries in England and Wales. You may not, however, be aware of exactly what it is that they do, and the occasions on which you might wish to take advantage of their Notarial services.

Who are Notaries?

The profession of a Notary is open to all those with a legal training and so, not surprisingly, the majority of Notaries are also solicitors. After passing the required examinations in Notarial practice, they then practise under the supervision of an experienced Notary for a period of two years.

There are two different types of Notary, Scrivenor and General. The lawyers at Warners are General Notaries which means they are qualified to practise anywhere in England and Wales.

What does a Notary do?

Notaries are mainly concerned with the verification for both companies and individuals of legal documents creating or affecting rights, duties and obligations outside England and Wales.

Another function of Notaries is to satisfy themselves as to the identity, signature and capacity of persons who sign legal and other documents in their presence.

Notaries often help with transactions with an international element, for example if you have business or property overseas or if you are involved in litigation in foreign courts.

Notaries also deal with Powers of Attorney, witnessing land documents and the swearing of oaths for documents all for use overseas. Notaries endeavour to ensure that the manner in which such documents are executed is appropriate for that document in this country and overseas.

Independence / obligations

A Notary is an independent officer and is prohibited from doing anything which might compromise this. He should not act in matters where he has a personal interest.  He is subject to professional rules and standards to ensure the protection of his clients. All Notaries must be properly insured against negligence and dishonesty.

Documents in a foreign language

Documents that come to a Notary are generally for use overseas, and may be in a foreign language. If so the Notary must seek to ensure that both he and the client understand the meaning and effect of the document. An appropriate translation may need to be provided.

Notaries do not usually give advice about the meaning or effect of a document or transaction. It is important that the client shows the notary any correspondence or advice that he has been given by others.

Record keeping

The Notary keeps a full set of the originals or copies of all official documents that he deals with, which serves as a permanent public record. The Notary is also obliged to maintain a register or Protocol detailing each notarial instruction he accepts.


Notaries are required to check each client’s personal identity. Accordingly, you will need to bring to your meeting with the Notary your passport and a document or documents that confirm your address to identify yourself.

Where documents are being dealt with for a company a Notary has to carry out additional identification procedures that include obtaining confirmation that the person signing or producing a document on behalf of a company has the authority to do so.

How much will it cost?

The Notaries at Warners will be pleased to give an indication, in advance, of the fees they will charge for the work they will carry out for you, if requested. Their fees are based on the amount of time their work takes.

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