Principles of the notarial function
The set of principles contained herein constitutes the essence of the notarial institution and the model which all Notariats should aspire to.
In the hope that these principles will be received, respected and applied by all Member Notariats of U.I.N.L., we urge all to make these principles become reality.
Part I – NOTARIES AND THEIR FUNCTION
1. Notaries are professional lawyers and public officials appointed by the State to confer authenticity on judicial deeds and contracts contained in documents drafted by them and to advise persons who call upon their services.
2. Although Notaries have official powers they are required to act both impartially and independently, outside any State hierarchy.
3. Notarial services encompass all judicial activities in non-contentious matters, affording legal certainty to litigants and helping to avert litigation through legal mediation procedures; they are an essential tool in the administration of justice.
Part II – NOTARIAL DOCUMENTS
4. Notarised deeds, which may be concerned with any kind of legal transaction, are deeds that are certified by a Notary. Their authenticity is based on the signature, date and content of the document. They are kept by the Notary in his archives.
5. When notarised deeds are drawn up Notaries are obliged to have constant regard for the law in interpreting the wishes of the parties concerned and ensuring that they conform to the law. They have to verify the identities of the parties involved as well as their status and authority to conclude the particular deed or transaction in question. They monitor its legality whilst at the same time ensuring that the intentions of the parties uttered in their presence are freely expressed irrespective of the medium used for the notarised deed.
6. Notaries have sole responsibility for their own draftsmanship. They are free to accept or reject any proposal submitted to them and to make any amendments that they deem suitable by agreement with the parties.
7. Parties to a notarised deed are entitled to copies of the original kept by the Notary. Authenticated copies have the same standing as an original. Notaries can issue ordinary copies to persons who, under national law, have a legitimate interest in ascertaining their content.
8. Notarised deeds enjoy the benefit of dual presumption of legality and accuracy of content; they may be contested only through judicial channels. They are enforceable instruments with conclusive force.
9. Notaries' duties also encompass legalisation of signatures affixed by individuals to documents signed under hand and certification that copies are true copies of the original, in addition to all manner of other activities authorised under national law.
10. Notarised deeds that meet the aforementioned standards should be recognised in all States and should have the same conclusive force, be enforceable in the same way and create the same rights and obligations as in their country of origin.
Part III – NOTARIAL ORGANISATION
11. The national law determines each Notary's field of competence and the number of Notaries sufficient to properly discharge their duties.
The law also determines the location of all Notaries' offices so as to ensure a fair distribution throughout the whole nation.
12. Notaries must be members of a collegiate body. A single organisation consisting exclusively of Notaries represents the whole body of Notaries in every country.
13. The law in each State determines the conditions governing access to the profession of Notary and the holding of public office as a Notary. It establishes what examinations and qualifications are to be considered necessary and demands that candidates should always have a law degree and the highest legal qualification.
Part IV – NOTARIAL ETHICS
14. The law of each State determines the disciplinary code that applies to Notaries, who are to be under the constant supervision of their public authorities and collegiate bodies.
15. Notaries have a duty to act in good faith and with integrity towards those who request their services, towards the State and towards their colleagues.
16. In accordance with the public nature of his office, a Notary is obliged to observe professional secrecy.
17. To achieve the balance needed in order to conclude a contract on an equal footing a Notary's impartiality can also take the form of lending adequate assistance to whichever of the parties might be in a position of inferiority.
18. Choice of Notary is a matter for the parties alone.
19. Notaries are bound by the ethical rules of their profession at both national and international level.
Approved by the General Meeting of member Chambers of Notaries of the UINL
Rome, Italy – 8th November 2005