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What is a notary?

A notary is a qualified lawyer – a member of the oldest branch of the legal profession in the United Kingdom. Notaries are appointed by the Court of Facilities of the Archbishop of Canterbury and are subject to regulation by the Master of the Faculties.


What services do notaries provide?

Notaries are primarily concerned with the authentication and certification of signatures, authority and capacity relating to documents for use abroad.  They are also authorised to conduct general legal practice (excluding the conduct of court proceedings) such as conveyancing and probate. They may exercise the powers of a Commissioner for Oaths.

The majority of Notaries Public also practise as solicitors but the Scrivener Notaries do not, nor do some 150 of the general notaries.


Where does a notary work?

Notaries may work in legal practices, alternative business structures or independently.


In England and Wales notaries are appointed and regulated through the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The rules which affect notaries are very similar to the rules which affect solicitors. Notaries have to renew their practising certificates every year and can only do so if they have complied with the rules.


Career progression

Many notaries are also dual-qualified as solicitors and carry out non-notarisation work in this capacity.  They have the same career progression options available as solicitor.

Additionally, a general notary who intends to qualify as a scrivener notary and has provided notice of this intention to the Clerk of the Worshipful Company of Scriveners of the City of London may be referred to as a candidate scrivener notary.  Candidate scrivener notaries must enter into a two-year period of supervision with a practising scrivener notary of at least five years’ standing before they can qualify. In practice, many trainees within the firms comprised of scrivener notaries enter into a prescribed training agreement to ensure that the provision of adequate supervision is met.

In addition to having passed the exams required to qualify as a general notary, the candidate scrivener notary will be examined by the Worshipful Company of Scriveners of the City of London under the provisions of the Scrivener (Qualifications) Rules 1998. These Rules require the candidate scrivener notary to pass examinations in advanced notarial practice, the legal system of a foreign country and two foreign languages (comprising both translation and legal drafting skills).

How to qualify

To qualify as a notary you will need to complete two stages of training.  Law Training Centre is the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s (FOAC) preferred provider of the Notarial Academic Training Course stage, with the second stage (Notarial Practice Course) being delivered by UCL.  Read more about the Notarial Academic Training Course by following the links below.

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