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Principles of notarial ethics

1. Professional preparation

Notaries must carry out their professional duties competently and with adequate preparation, performing their essential functions of advising, interpreting and applying the law, acquiring specific knowledge of notarial matters and conforming to professional standards.

Notaries must particularly ensure that they keep up-to-date with professional matters, taking a personal interest in the initiatives proposed by their professional bodies.

2. Offices

Notaries must provide a framework of good efficient office facilities with suitable technology wherever they are compelled by their local organisations to perform their official duties.

Notaries must act in their official capacity in such a way as to ensure effective availability of service, presence in person and working hours appropriate to client needs.

3. Relations with colleagues and professional bodies

Notaries must act towards their colleagues in a spirit of respect, cooperation and solidarity, promoting the mutual exchange of ideas, service and counsel.

Notaries must not harm the reputations of the profession or of their colleagues by speaking ill of their skills or abilities or of the services rendered by another notary.

Notaries must participate as far as possible in developments within their profession by sharing their knowledge and experience with colleagues and students (where appropriate) and by involvement in vocational training programmes.

Notaries must extend every cooperation to their professional bodies, enabling them to discharge their duties efficiently; they must also be willing to undertake responsibilities within the profession as a whole and perform tasks allotted to them.

As members of a professional body, notaries are obliged to render their services with willingness and objectivity, constantly and effectively exercising their powers and responsibilities and promoting a spirit of unity amongst notaries.

4. Competition

By accepting office, notaries agree to conduct themselves correctly; they will respect the principles of free choice for clients and fair competition between notaries.

Notaries must not attract clientele using means other than their proper professional resources; in particular, they must never have recourse to reductions in fees, rely on the services of outside agencies to canvass clientele or use procedures that dishonour the dignity and status of the profession.

5. Publicity

Unless the law should provide otherwise, notaries are forbidden to engage in any personal advertising of their standing or professional abilities or in any form of indirect advertising that would have the same ultimate effect.

Authorisation is given to modes of group advertising of a strictly informative nature that may be instigated by professional bodies or, in any event, regulated by the same, subject to the principle of equality between notaries.

6. Choice of notaries

Except in those cases expressly provided under the law, freedom in the choice of a notary is extended to all.

In the pursuance of their duty of impartiality notaries must refrain from any action that might directly or indirectly influence the free choice of a notary enjoyed by all.

7. The personal aspect of notarial services

A notary's professional service necessarily creates a personal relationship of trust with clients. Notaries may employ aides and assistants provided that they do not in any way affect the personal nature of the overall service rendered.

Notaries must always verify the identities of parties and the capacity in which they are acting. They must also give expression to their wishes.

8. Professional duty of confidentiality

Notaries must comply with their professional duty of confidentiality both in the course of their professional services and thereafter. They are also obliged to ensure that this requirement is similarly satisfied by their employees and agents.

Notaries are not bound by their professional duty of confidentiality purely as a result of their obligation to act in concert with any public authorities with which they become involved because of a specific regulation or an order of a judicial or administrative body, including in particular the authority responsible for monitoring the propriety of commercial transactions.

9. Impartiality and independence

Notaries must conduct themselves in the course of their professional duties with impartiality and independence, avoiding all personal influence over their activities and any form of discrimination against clients.

When acting in their official capacity notaries must balance the respective interests of the parties concerned and seek a solution with the sole objective of safeguarding both parties.

10. Diligence and liability

Notaries must act suitably and constructively in the discharge of their duties; they must inform and advise the parties as to the possible consequences of their instructions, having regard to all aspects of normal legal procedure for which they are responsible; they must select the judicial form most appropriate to their intentions and ensure its legality and relevance; they must provide the parties with any clarification requested or necessary to ensure conformity with decisions taken and awareness of the legal force of the deed.

Notaries must have adequate capacity to function in response to risks arising in the course of their duties by having recourse, for instance, to certain forms of insurance.

FINAL CONSIDERATIONS

The notary members of the International Union of Notaries, according to their national law, will do everything in their power to apply and enforce the aforementioned Rules of Notarial Ethics by means of an appropriate system of sanctions.

They will also set up an "ad hoc" Committee in every country with responsibility for compliance.  

Approved by the General Meeting of Member Chambers of Notaries of the UINL
Mexico City, Mexico - 17th October 2004