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A Notary Public is a term that refers to an attorney who possesses in-depth knowledge of a set of legal facts and the processes prescribed therein.  A Notary Public needs to be admitted and authorised by the High Court to witness signatures, draw, and attest contracts and statements, and authenticate the validity of certain documents.  This office is held to a higher standard of care than an attorney since the nature of the services they provide is highly ethical and requires specialist knowledge.

What does a Notary do?

Part of a Notary's duty is to screen the individuals who sign important documents for their identity, their awareness of the contents of the document or transaction, and their willingness to sign without coercion or intimidation. Some situations require a Notary to put the individual under oath and declare under penalty of lying under oath that the information in a document is true and correct.

A Notary Public must have impartiality as a foundational value. They need to be duty-bound and thus cannot act in situations with personal interest. The public trusts that the Notary's screening tasks are corruption-and self-interest free. Impartiality also assures that a Notary never refuses to serve a person due to their religion, race, nationality, politics, sexual orientation, or status as a non-customer.

By law, the following documents need to be drawn up by a Notary:

  • Antenuptial Contracts
  • Long-term Leases
  • Servitudes (personal and praedial)
  • Cession of Rights in Sectional Title Schemes
  • Notarial Bonds

A Notary Public is also needed to certify a range of legal documents, including:

  • Marriage certificates
  • Birth certificates
  • Death certificates
  • Single status certificates
  • Divorce certificates
  • Police clearance certificates
  • Powers of attorney
  • Copies of IDs or passports
  • Educational documents

Other duties can include: Administering the oath or affirmation, witnessing and authenticating the execution of documents for use inside and outside of a country; protesting bills of exchange; and preparing ship protests.

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