Code of Practice
Chapter 2. A notary shall act with integrity
Integrity is central to the notarial profession and the office of a notary. Notaries are appointed by a Faculty issued in the name of the Archbishop of Canterbury and under the seal of the Archbishop’s Faculty Office. The Faculty states that “full faith ought to be given as well in Judgment as thereout to the instruments to be from this time made by you”, which means that courts, other authorities, and all recipients of notarial acts should be able to trust those acts without further enquiry.
Notaries are Authorised Persons, which means that they are authorised to carry on certain Reserved Legal Activities and must be regulated. The Regulator of notarial activities is the Master of the Faculties.
The fact that notaries are Authorised Persons shows that notaries are trusted to conduct themselves with integrity in relation to the provision of legal services generally. Only notaries are authorised to provide notarial services, so this applies particularly to those services.
The particular nature of notarial services brings special meaning to “integrity”. The acts of a notary authorised in England and Wales are accepted and relied on throughout the world as full and final proof of the matters stated in those acts, whether matters of fact or matters of law. The recipient of a notarial act must be able to have faith in the integrity of the notarial act – that the matters of fact and law contained in the act have been properly verified on the basis of positive evidence and knowledge of the law, that the party or parties to the matter authenticated by the notary are clearly identified and have given their express and informed consent to be bound, that the notarial act is physically secure and safeguarded from unauthorised amendment, and that the notarial act is backed up by accurate records maintained in accordance with the Practice Rules[Practice Rule 24] (see also Chapter 18 – Record Keeping and File Storage).
- Your personal integrity characterises all your professional dealings with clients, all relevant authorities, other lawyers, all persons placing legitimate reliance on your notarial acts, and the public.
- Your clients receive appropriate independent information and advice in respect of the instructions provided to you.
- You consider your personal integrity at all times when issuing and recording notarial acts.
- You do not give false or misleading information relating to the provision of Reserved Legal Activities.
- You act honestly, professionally and decently in your role as a notary.
- You recognise ethical issues within your notarial practice and exercise effective judgement in addressing them.
- You resist pressure to condone, ignore or commit unethical behaviour.
- You respect diversity and act fairly and inclusively (see Chapter 8 – Equality of Opportunity and Respect for Diversity).
- Your advertising is clear, accurate, and fair and you do not publicise your notarial practice through unsolicited communications in person or by telephone [Practice Rule 14].
- You do not take unfair advantage of or intentionally mislead any person in your activities as a notary, whether or not that person is a client or a person placing legitimate reliance on your notarial acts.
- You identify, assess, manage and promptly address risks to money and assets entrusted to you by clients and others.
- You provide your clients with all information relevant to their affairs of which you become aware in the course of carrying out notarial activities.
- You conduct yourself in a manner which may result in a breach of the law or of the Master’s Rules or in any other manner which may bring the notarial profession or the legal profession as a whole into disrepute.
- You hold yourself out as having a qualification or professional status that you do not possess.
- You allow fee arrangements to prejudice your independence or professional judgement (see also Chapter 3 – Independence and Impartiality).
- You conduct business under a misleading name [Practice Rule 19].
- You fail to consider the needs of vulnerable clients (see also Chapter 8 – Equality of Opportunity and Respect for Diversity).
- You give legal advice that you are not qualified or competent to give.
- You act in a situation where there is a conflict of interest (see also Chapter 13 – Conflicts of Interest).