Code of Practice Structure

In this Code of Practice, the Principles and key aspects of notarial services are analysed and explained in Chapters 1 to 20. Chapters 21 and 22 deal with conveyancing and probate services as provided by notaries. Chapter 23 deals with the administration of oaths.  Each Chapter contains a series of Outcomes, which show the general aims of regulation in respect of that particular Principle or area of practice. The Outcomes represent the aims that a notary should achieve when dealing with clients generally and in particular when carrying out notarial activities.

Positive and negative indicators of conduct are then given to provide examples of behaviour that are considered to represent the proper application of a Principle (a positive indicator of conduct) or failure to apply a Principle (a negative indicator of conduct). The positive and negative indicators of conduct are intended to provide helpful guidance and are not compulsory, except to the extent that they restate or exemplify applicable legislation and/or the Master’s Rules, in which case the legislation and the Master’s Rules must be observed.

Chapter 21 (conveyancing), Chapter 22 (probate) and Chapter 23 (administration of oaths) only apply to those notaries who carry out conveyancing, probate activities and/or the administration of oaths under the regulation of the Master of the Faculties. Notaries who are regulated for the provision of those services by a different regulator, for example by the Solicitors Regulation Authority or the Council for Licensed Conveyancers, do not have to refer to these Chapters. The structure of these three Chapters is different and reflects the special nature of these Reserved Legal Activities as carried out by notaries.

This Code of Practice cannot and is not intended to cover every aspect of notarial activities or of a notary’s practice. The varying nature of practices and of notarial services is recognised and notaries are expected to apply the Principles and consider the Outcomes using a proportionate and risk-based approach.

A proportionate approach takes into account the size and structure of the notary’s practice, and the nature and complexity of the particular service being provided. The practice of a sole practitioner notary will naturally be different in its organisation, structure and workload to the practice of a multi-partner firm of notaries.

A risk-based approach involves a risk assessment of particular instructions and a consequent application of the Principles that balances the objectives of providing a prompt and efficient service to clients and maintaining a proper standard of work. The application of the Principles to a simple notarial act such as the notarial attestation of a signature on a statutory pension form will differ from their application to a more complex matter such as the notarial authentication of a multi-party deed relating to a high-value corporate transaction.

The Principles are not discrete areas. Conduct that fails to consider or implement one Principle may cause, or be caused by, a failure in respect of another. This Code of Practice should be read accordingly.

Words and phrases appearing in BOLD TEXT are defined in the glossary.