Code of Practice
Chapter 6: A notary shall operate his notarial practice in accordance with proper governance and sound financial and risk management principles
The financial good standing of a notary’s practice is of key importance for a notary’s clients and for the reputation of the notarial profession as a whole. The financial good standing of a notary’s practice is dependent on proper governance and properly applied risk-management principles so that the practice is not left open to uninsured claims or claims that may exceed the insurance held by the notary or notarial firm. A claim of this nature would have a detrimental effect for the client, and may result in financial difficulties, even the bankruptcy of a notary or the insolvency of a notarial firm.
Proper governance means managing your notary’s practice effectively and conscientiously. As an employer notary you should be aware of what your colleagues and staff are doing and ensure that they report to you regularly and fully. As an employed notary you should ensure that your employer is aware of what you are doing and, subject to your ability to exercise independent judgment in carrying out notarial activities, that you comply with the policies of the notarial firm with regard to regulatory compliance.
Sound financial principles are those principles that enable you to provide the proper infrastructure for the provision of notarial services to the public, including the maintenance of proper premises at which clients may be seen safely and in comfort, the availability of suitable equipment for the issuance of notarial acts, including computer hardware and printing facilities, and that enable the continuance of those service to the public, including access to notarial records for clients and other persons with a proper interest in a notarial acts, until such time as a planned cessation of services is implemented.
Risk-management principles should be applied by notaries in order to identify events and circumstances that may imperil the continuing provision of services to the public and/or put notarial records and clients‘ personal data at risk of destruction or disclosure, and to put in place additional or alternative safeguards in order to reduce or eliminate the effect of such events and circumstances.
- The financial stability of your practice is monitored so as to protect clients’ interests, client’s money and assets from risks associated with the financial position of your business or the business of your notarial firm.
- You maintain proper standards of work and keep accurate records.
- You inform your Regulator of any identified risks or claims that may prevent you from continuing to provide notarial services to the public
- Clients’ matters are under your direct control or are adequately supervised and regularly checked by you so as to assess the quality of the work and to ensure that any issues identified are addressed.
- Tasks that you have asked other persons who are not in your employ to perform on your behalf are properly monitored, and you recognise that you remain accountable for work done by others.
- You exercise effective control over budgets, expenditure and cash flow.
- You identify and monitor financial, operational and business continuity risks including complaints, credit risks and exposure, claims under legislation relating to matters such as data protection (see also Chapter 14 – Data Protection), IT failures and abuses, and damage to offices.
- You have a disaster-recovery plan and review it regularly.
- You make arrangements for the continuation of your practice in the event of absences and emergencies, for example holiday or sickness, with the minimum interruption to clients’ business.
- You identify, monitor and manage all risks to your practice that may arise from any other business which you operate, actively participate in, or control, alone or with any other person.
- Whether you are a sole practitioner notary, an employer notary or an employed notary you play a part in ensuring that your practice is well run for the benefit of your clients.
- You have a clear and effective governance structure and appropriate reporting lines within a notarial firm.
- You identify, monitor and manage risks to compliance with all applicable legislation, the Master’s Rules, and the application of the Principles, and take steps to address issues identified.
- You maintain systems and controls for monitoring the financial stability of your practice and risks to money and assets entrusted to you by clients and others, and you take steps to address issues identified.
- You have a system for supervising clients‘ matters, which includes you regularly checking of the quality of any work delegated to employees.
- As soon as you are aware that your notarial practice will cease to operate, you make arrangements for the orderly winding down of activities.
- Your procedures to ensure compliance with legal and regulatory obligations are ineffective or not implemented, with the result that your obligations are breached.
- You outsource notarial activities or any other legal activities undertaken by you as a notary, or any operational functions that are critical to the delivery of any notarial or other legal activities, and as a result your ability to comply with the Master’s Rules is adversely affected.
- In the event of flood, fire or other natural or manmade disaster your clients’ interests are adversely affected when the implementation of a disaster-recovery plan might have protected those interests.
- As an employer notary you fail to provide training to employed notaries and other individuals working under your supervision and/or in your employ so as to maintain a level of competence appropriate to their work and level of responsibility.
- Your management, oversight and reporting structures are inadequate resulting in clients’ matters being dealt with by unqualified or untrained persons.
- You fail to keep records of communications with clients, professional colleagues, your Regulator, and others or do not make records contemporaneously with the result that the accuracy of those records is put in doubt.