Code of Practice


Notaries are appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury under an Act of Parliament from the reign of Henry VIII, the Ecclesiastical Licences Act.  This Act of Parliament created the Court of Faculties and provided for the appointment of the Master of the Faculties, who manages the business of the Court of Faculties through the Faculty Office.

 The only persons authorised under the Legal Services Act to carry out notarial activities are notaries.  This is because the Master of the Faculties is the only regulator of notarial activities under the Legal Services Act and the Master of the Faculties only regulates notaries.

Notaries may also be regulated by the Master of the Faculties to carry out other Reserved Legal Activities, specifically reserved instrument activitiesprobate activities and the administration of oaths

In addition to these Reserved Legal Activities notaries may provide other legal services (but the Master of the Faculties is not a regulator of rights of audience or the  conduct of litigation). 

All other legal services provided by a notary as a notary form part of  his or her  notary’s practice and are subject generally to the regulation of the Master of the Faculties.

A notary holding a practising certificate is required to provide notarial services to the public, subject to the requirements of applicable legislation and the Master’s Rules, in particular the Practice Rules.

In common with all other Authorised Persons, notaries have the right to use the title “Commissioner for Oaths” and may be regulated for the provision of the services of a Commissioner for Oaths to the public by the Master of the Faculties or by another regulator.

Notaries are not obliged to provide conveyancing and probate services and if they do so they have a choice of regulators.  If notaries provide these services under the regulation of the Master of the Faculties, they must comply with special supervision and continuing professional education requirements.

This approved Code of Practice deals with core areas of Reserved Legal Activities generally, but also refers specifically to notarial activities and particular aspects of the provision of notarial services. Chapters 1 to 8 of the Code explain the Principles that must be applied by notaries in all services that they provide. The remaining chapters cover specific key areas of a notary’s practice and guidance for notary-conveyancersand notary-probate practitioners:

The Principles (Chapters 1 to 8)
Transparency (Chapter 9)
Accounts (Chapter 10)
Anti Money Laundering (Chapter 11)
Complaints (Chapter 12)
Conflicts of Interest (Chapter 13)
Continuing Professional Education (Chapter 14)
Data Protection (Chapter 15)
Inspections (Chapter 16)
Insurance (Chapter 17)
Record Keeping and File Storage (Chapter 18)
Supervision (Chapter 19)
Undertakings (Chapter 20)
Conveyancing (Chapter 21)
Probate (Chapter 22)
Administration of Oaths (Chapter 23)

These are all linked separately from the ‘chapters’ menu to the left.

Practice Rule 5.1 requires notaries to have regard at all times to this Code of Practice. This means that whilst the guidance and statements of best practice contained in this Code are not obligatory, a notary must be aware and take account of this Code and the statements of best practice contained in this Code when providing notarial services.

Nothing in this Code of Practice relieves a notary of the duty to comply with any statutory provision or regulatory rule. The Code of Practice is designed to help notaries to comply with their professional obligations, to safeguard the interests of their clients and the interests of all persons placing legitimate reliance on notarial acts, and to enhance professional standards.

In this Code of Practice references to a notary include a firm of notaries [Practice Rule 2.1] unless the context clearly shows otherwise, but exclude ecclesiastical notaries.

Note: terms marked IN BOLD TYPE are defined in the glossary and linked as necessary to further information.