Who they are and what they do
A Notary Public is a legal officer of ancient standing. The functions of Notaries include the preparation and execution of legal documents for use abroad, attesting the authenticity of deeds and writings, and protesting bills of exchange. Notaries in England and Wales may also provide any non-contentious legal service, including Conveyancing and Probate activities.
How the Faculty Office oversees the Notarial Profession
The admission and regulation of Notaries Public in England & Wales is one of the functions of the Faculty Office. The Master of the Faculties (the judge who presides over the Faculty Office) is the approved regulator of the profession. This jurisdiction regarding the Notarial Profession was confirmed and enhanced by the Courts and Legal Services Act of 1990 and the Legal Services Act 2007. Both confirmed the Master’s statutory powers to make Rules for the regulation of the profession.
The Faculty Office consults with the profession frequently and more information on past and current consultations is available here: Consultations
How Notaries organise themselves
There are two membership organisations for Notaries, the Notaries Society and the Society of Scrivener Notaries. They have representative functions only and are not part of the Faculty Office.
Although The Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury regulates Notaries (and the ‘faculty’ appointing a Notary is issued in the name of the Archbishop), a Notary is a secular lawyer and is not otherwise associated with the Archbishop or the Church of England.
The Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury also maintains jurisdiction for the appointment (and partial regulation) of Notaries in certain overseas jurisdictions. See the link below for further information.