John W Saunders - Notary Public

Frequently Asked Questions


Question Mark

Q:        What is an Apostille?
A:        Specific form of Legalisation originally created by the Convention of 5th October 1961 of the Hague Conference on Private International Law. Information as to which countries have signed the Convention is available from the office.

Q:        What is a Bill of Exchange?
A:        This is a negotiable instrument of declining importance in trade finance but dishonoured (unpaid) bills of exchange are still noted and protested by Notaries.

Q:        What is a Certificate?
A:        The core function of a Notary – to issue certificates attesting to facts witnessed by or proved to him and attested under his signature and Seal.

Q:        What does Escritura mean?
A:        This is a Spanish (or Portuguese) word popularly believed to mean title deed to real property but actually only means an instrument in writing.

Q:        What is the Faculty Office?
A:        This is the Regulatory Body for all notaries practicing in England and Wales.  Current Rule structure covers essentially similar ground to solicitors and accountants, i.e. ethical practice, client moneys, discipline as well as training and admission.

Q:        How is the Foreign Office involved?
A:        It is the UK mainland monopoly provider of Apostille Legislation and also needed for many non-apostille countries.

Q:        What is a General Notary?
A:        These are Notaries Public in England and Wales who are not Scrivener Notaries.  They are often solicitors though this is not a requirement.

Q:        What is the role of identification?
A:        All signatories must be identified personally (by production of original Passport).  Certificates involving a single signatory and/or an officer who is not either a Director or the Company Secretary and/or a non-English Company can require detailed and complex investigation.

Q:        What does Legislation mean?
A:        The certification of a signature of a notary (but can be of others) by a consular or diplomatic authority.  It is therefore less comprehensive than notarisation and never implies acceptance or approval of any words, statement, certificate or other document preceding the legalised signature.  Legalisation (and Notarisation) requirements are dictated by detailed evidence rules of receiving jurisdictions and can vary according to the context of the transaction, e.g. affidavits for litigaton; land registration; filing of patents and trade marks; company registration; tendering.

Q:        Why do I need a Passport?
A:        As a result of increasing fraud and the advent of money-laundering regulations this is the document almost always needed for individual identification.

Q:        Do I need a Notary for a Power of Attorney?
A:        If for overseas, the Power of Attorney is the document mot frequently needing notarisation.

Q:        What does Protest mean?
A:        This is a form of Certificate used to record dishonour of Bills of Exchange or to record an event in relation to the operation of a ship on the high seas.

Q:        What is a Protocol?
A:        This is a special form of register of notarial acts drawn up in the civil law countries in what is known as “authentic” form.  Also adopted on a voluntary basis by Scrivener Notaries.

Q:        What Records are kept?
A:        Notaries must keep extensive records (but not necessarily full copies) of all their Certificates and annexed documents, in some cases permanently.  These are all private records available only to clients or under statutory exceptions.

Q:        What is a Scrivener?
A:        The profession of notary in the City of London is governed by a Livery Company (The Scriveners Company).  The Scriveners set special training and qualifications rules under the aegis of the Faculty Office.  This special syllabus covers property, trust and commercial aspects of English Law, parallel aspects of the law of one foreign country, translations from two languages into English and English into one foreign language.  Traineeship lasts for 5 years and it has been usual for over 30 years to spend on year in a foreign country as part of training.

Q:        What is a Seal?
A:        Every notary has his own die-cast or embossed seal, usually containing a unique design or crest, with the words “notary public” and his place of practice.

Q:        How do I get Translations:
A:        This is one of the most important services traditionally provided by notaries.  JOHN W SAUNDERS has contact with a number of firms of translators and translations of most languages can usually be arranged quite easily and quickly but this will be at the client’s cost.  Please enquire at the office as to the availability of such facilities.

Q:        What is an Undertaking?
A:        Notaries have similar responsibilities to solicitors in relation to professional undertakings. An undertaking is a professional promise that something will be done and often done by a specific date or time.  Breach gives rise to disciplinary proceedings against the notary making the promise.

Q:        Must I visit your office?
A:        Notaries do not only see clients at their office but also attend at clients’ premises.  This is on a fee basis but saves management time.