How are notaries regulated?

Posted: 18th April 2014

The Admission and Regulation of Notaries practising within England and Wales is the responsibility of a body known as the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, often referred to simply as the “Faculty Office”. The Faculty Office is presided over by the Master of the Faculties – a judge who is the approved regulator of all members of the profession providing notarial services in London and throughout England and Wales.

The Master’s jurisdiction in respect of Notaries dates as far back as the Ecclesiastical Licences Act 1533 and has been confirmed and enhanced in more recent times by both the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 and Legal Services Act 2007 which enshrined the Master’s statutory powers to make Rules for the regulation of the Profession.

The Legal Services Act 2007 also created the Legal Service Board, the body which is ultimately responsible for the oversight of all regulatory bodies across the legal profession. The Master of Faculties, along with bodies such as the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority and the Bar Standards Board are among the ten approved regulators who directly regulate lawyers practising in England and Wales. These approved regulators are then in turn regulated by the Legal Services Board. The Legal Services Board also oversees the Office for Legal Complaints, the organisation responsible for handling consumer complaints about lawyers.

What Is a Notary?

Among the primary functions of notaries are the preparation and certification legal documents. Usually these documents are not ultimately to be used in England and Wales, but rather in other jurisdictions. Often a London notary public will fit the provision of notarial services around his or her practice as a Solicitor. In the case of scrivener notaries, a group of full-time specialist notaries public in London, they will often prepare documents and certifications directly in the language of the country or jurisdiction in which they are to be used. Being skilled linguists in addition to their legal training, scrivener notaries are also regularly called upon to issue certified translations of a whole spectrum of legal and commercial documents for use overseas.

You can easily search for notaries public in London, or elsewhere in the UK, on the Faculty Offices’ website, at www.facultyoffice.org.uk/notary

This site will also give you further information on the matters dealt with by the Faculty Office such as the issuance of Practising Certificates which all notaries must renew each year. Details of all of the Rules governing the notarial profession can also be found on the site.

Who Else Regulates Notaries?

Whilst they are ultimately regulated by the Master of the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the majority of notaries are also members of one of the profession’s representative bodies – the Society of Scrivener Notaries for scrivener notaries providing notarial services in London, and the Notaries Society for notaries public in London and elsewhere in England and Wales who do not practise as Scrivener Notaries.

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