What is a Notary ?

A Notary is a separate and distinct element of legal service in England & Wales. A Notary is an officer of the law who holds a public office. The duty and function of a Notary is to prepare, witness the signing of, authenticate and certify deeds and other documents for use anywhere in the world. The Notary does not give advice on foreign law. The Notary is regulated by The Master of Faculties, the address of whom appears in the terms and conditions which appear below.

A Notary holds an office and status which is recognised internationally.

Documents which bear the signature and official seal of a Notary are recognised as evidence of a responsible legal officer in most countries of the world.

What kind of work does a notary carry out ?

A Notary mainly acts as an impartial and legally trained witness to authenticate and certify the signature of documents intended to be used outside the UK. Other duties of a notary include:

• authenticating the facts set out in documents
• taking oaths and declarations
• dealing with powers of attorney which enable acts to be carried out abroad
• certifying the existence of U.K. companies, the identity of their directors and the ability of the companies to validly enter into contracts
• certifying (via a translator) translations of documents into English and from English
• providing certified copies of documents

What is the connection between the Notarial Practice of Michael Baggott and Hugh James, Solicitors ?

Michael Baggott is a partner in the separate practice of Hugh James, Solicitors. The Notarial Practice of Michael Baggott and the Solicitors’ Practice of Hugh James are independent of each other.

The Notarial Practice is conducted at Two Central Square, Cardiff, CF10 1FS, which is the office of Hugh James, Solicitors. The premises, reception staff and other staff are shared with Hugh James, Solicitors. In accordance with Notarial Practice guidelines, any client referred by the Notary to that Solicitors’ practice does not have any of the protection attaching to the client of a Notary, but benefits only from the practice rules applicable to a Solicitors’ practice and will be subject to Hugh James, Solicitors’ Terms of Business, which are available on demand.

Notarial Responsibilities

Notarial acts require a high standard of care, as reliance on such acts is made by clients, third parties and foreign governments and officials. The Notary has a responsibility to protect against error, omission, alterations, fraud, and forgery.

Notarial acts are not rubber stamping exercises and the requirements of accuracy and validity cannot be overridden by urgency or expediency.

Unless otherwise agreed in writing, Notarial responsibility is limited to the Notarial formalities. It does not extend to advice on, or the drafting of documentation prepared by third parties (e.g. foreign lawyers or foreign authorities) or on the transaction or matter under consideration.

What will the Notary expect from me ?

In order to meet the high standard of Notarial acts, the Notary is required to obtain proof (to his discretion and satisfaction), of identity, any represented legal capacity and authority, clients’ understanding of documentation, interpretation/or translation into or from other languages, effectiveness of documentation, validity, signature and witnessing, observance of required formalities both in this country and abroad.

In almost all cases, those instructing the Notary will be required to appear personally before the Notary. Attendance at the Notary’s office will usually be required to ensure all necessary secretarial facilities are available. However, in exceptional cases, arrangements can be made for the Notary to meet clients out of the office. In all cases, identification (normally a current passport) will be required.

All matters to be certified by the Notary will need to be personally verified by him. Originals of all relevant documents will normally be required. Photocopies will not suffice.

In the case of companies, details of the proof and information required, depending on the circumstances and service required, should be discussed in advance with the Notary. Notarial attendance at a company board meeting may be required in some cases, which may be arranged at the Notary’s offices if required. Company searches may be required in support or proof of certain corporate acts. It is required that these are obtained direct from Companies House by the Notary, at the cost of the client. Time should be allowed to obtain these in advance of any personal attendance.

Early discussion of outline requirements with the Notary is advised.

Time, expense, and error, may be saved if clients, or their advisors, provide, in advance of any personal consultation, the originals or exact and complete photocopies of:-
• all documents to be notarised
• covering correspondence or forms of instructions from the country to which the documentation is to be provided that relate to that act
• identification evidence (as referred to above)
Copies of documents produced ancillary to or in support of Notarial acts may be required for retention, as will copies or original duplicates of Notarial acts, to form part of the required Notarial register/record.
Documents to be notarised should not be bound, as the Notary may have to re-bind them with a covering Notarial Certificate.

Translations may be required of documents before and/or after or as part of a Notarial act. The Notary can usually arrange or advise on this aspect if required.

An initial appointment and an appointment to finalise the Notarial act may be required, particularly if documentation has to be prepared in formal style.


British Foreign and Commonwealth Office endorsement (and/or the endorsements of the relevant High Commission/Embassy/Consulate of the country in which it is proposed to use the document the subject of a Notarial act), is required in some cases for use abroad, as an additional authentication to notarised documents. This is usually obtained by the Notary at the expense of the client and is usually applied for by post. The Notary accepts no responsibility for documents lost in transit or by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

In urgent cases clients may have to attend the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (and/or the relevant High Commission/Embassy/Consulate) in person or instruct agents to appear on his/her behalf.

Preparation of documentation for Notarial action is formal and prior preparation of documents or draft documents may be required.

How much will it cost ?

There is no standard fee. The Notary’s charges are based on the time the Notary spends in dealing with matter. Michael Baggott’s time is currently charged at £300 per hour. Any ‘out of pocket’ costs or expenses incurred by the Notary in performing his duties will be charged in addition. Where the Notary’s fees are £300 or less, payment must in all cases be made in cash.

Please refer to the following Standard Terms and Conditions of Business for further details regarding the Notary’s charges. These Terms and Conditions of Business will be deemed as accepted upon receipt of any instructions, oral or written.

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