Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Notary Public?
A Notary Public is a qualified lawyer - a member of the third and oldest branch of the legal profession in England and Wales. Notaries are appointed by the Court of Faculties of the Archbishop of Canterbury and are subject to regulation by the Master of the Faculties.
What does a Notary Public do?
A Notary Public is an independent public officer who is primarily concerned with the authentication and certification of documents for use abroad. A Notary Public’s key function will normally be to 'notarise' a document for a client. This requires that the Notary Public has authenticated the document having first undertaken the required level of checks. The recipient of the document needs to be able to trust and have confidence in the authenticity of the document that they receive and the Notary's signature and seal inspires this confidence as the work of a Notary Public is recognised worldwide.
Why might you need to see a Notary Public?
Broadly speaking, the requirement for you to use a Notary Public will arise if you or your business are involved with a matter outside of the UK. For example, if you are an individual or business with assets and/or legal interests abroad you may need to sign documents in this country and then send them overseas.
There are a broad range of situations in which you may need to use the services of a Notary Public which are covered in Our Services.
What is the difference between a Solicitor and a Notary Public?
A UK Notary Public is usually someone that either is or at some point has been a Solicitor at some point in their career. They are therefore legally trained. In addition to their legal training as Solicitors, Notaries are required to train and qualify by obtaining the necessary professional qualifications and then undergoing a period of supervision.
Notaries are trained in the process of authenticating documents in a manner required to ensure their acceptance overseas. A Solicitor is not specifically trained to authenticate documents in the same way as a Notary Public.
Documents that are to be used abroad are often used in countries where the legal systems are different to the common law system we have in the in the UK and where the role and status of the Solicitor is not recognised. Due to the unique history and role of the Notary Public (Notaries were first used during the period of the Roman Empire) their status and work is recognised all across the world regardless of the legal system in place.
How do I know if I need to use a Notary Public or a Solicitor?
Usually you will have been sent a letter or email of instruction advising you as to who you need to see regarding your document by the person or business who has asked for your document to be authenticated. If you haven't you may wish to check with such person or business. If in doubt, you should contact a Notary Public to check this.
Why is it important that a document is authenticated by a Notary Public rather than a Solicitor?
If a document is authenticated by a Solicitor instead of a Notary in circumstances where it needed to be dealt with by a Notary Public it is likely that the document will be rejected when it is received by the intended recipient. In such circumstances the process needs to be re-started this time using a Notary Public instead of a Solicitor and can therefore result in delay in getting the document accepted.
My document refers to the need to be signed before a Commissioner for Oaths - can a Notary help?
Yes - a Notary Public is a Commissioner for Oaths and can therefore deal with any documents which require witnessing by a Commissioner for Oaths.
Do documents for use abroad need to be notarised?
As a rule of thumb, if the document is to be used abroad, you will probably need to see a Notary Public, if it is to be used in the UK you may be able to see a Solicitor. However the best starting point is to enquire with the intended recipient of the document (or if applicable, your adviser) to find out what their requirements are.
Do I need to make an appointment to see the Notary Public?
It is advisable to make an appointment to see Sukhpal to avoid delay in case he has other appointments. He is usually able to offer appointments within 24-48 hours.
Can the Notary Public come and see me?
Sukhpal is happy to travel to meetings with clients throughout the Thames Valley and London. A fee is charged for this which will vary depending on the length of the journey.
For the protection of our clients we maintain a professional indemnity insurance up to the value of £3,000,000.00 in respect of the notarial services we provide. This is substantially more than the legal requirement and reflects our commitment to our clients and our confidence in the quality of our services.
Regulation of our notarial practice
Our notarial practice is regulated through the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury:
The Faculty Office
1, The Sanctuary
What to do if you are dissatisfied with our services
If you are dissatisfied about the service you have received, please do not hesitate to contact us:
Sukhpal Matharoo Notary Public
Apex Plaza, Forbury Road, Reading RG1 1AX
Telephone: 0118 969 6839
If we are unable to resolve the matter to your satisfaction you may then complain to The Notaries Society, of which Sukhpal is a member, who have a Complaints Procedure which is approved by the Faculty Office. This procedure is free to use and is designed to provide a quick resolution to any dispute.
In that case please write with full details of your complaint to:
The Secretary of The Notaries Society
PO Box 7655
Tel: 01604 758908
If you have your complaint considered under the Notaries Society Approved Complaints Procedure but are not satisfied with the outcome of it, you may at the end of that procedure, or after a period of 6 months from the date you first notified us that you were dissatisfied, make your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman, if you are not happy with the result:
PO Box 6806,
Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ
If you decide to make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman, you must refer your matter to the Legal Ombudsman:
- Within six months of receiving a final response to your complaintand
- Six years from the date of act/omission; or
- Three years from when you should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint (only if the act or omission took place more than six years ago)
The act or omission, or when you should have reasonably known there was cause for complaint, must have been after 5th October 2010.