Most people know nothing about Notaries Public until they require one.
At present there are only a few hundred of them in Singapore. Although all Notaries Public in Singapore practice as lawyers, their practice as Notaries Public is independent from that of lawyers. Very few lawyers in Singapore practice solely as a Notary Public and Commissioner for Oaths.
I am one of them.
Notaries are mainly concerned with overseas matters and with the certification and verification of documents that will be used in other countries of the world for clients who have business or property overseas or who are involved in litigation in foreign courts.
A Notary mainly acts as an impartial and legally trained witness to authenticate and certify the execution of documents required or intended for use outside Singapore.
Notarial functions under Singapore law include:
- attesting the signature and execution of documents
- authenticating the execution of documents
- administration of oaths and declarations
- powers of attorney, corporate records, contracts, tenders
- certify true copies of documents
- international domain name transfers
The Notary’s relationship with a client is not the same as that of a solicitor and client. When he is carrying out his notary public duty he can be said to have a responsibility to the whole world rather than only to the client.
A Notary's signature and seal is accepted as being the evidence of a respected senior officer in all over the world.
My first task as a Notary is to identify the client by production of a passport or an NRIC and then to ensure the person fully understands the document before witnessing the signature and affixing the Notaries official seal.
Once the document whether signed personally, or on behalf of company has been witnessed and sealed by the Notary (and if necessary legalised) it is recognised as authentic in the country where it is to be used.