By Papia Kabir
Legal Intern

The notarial profession has a long history of development in England and Wales with notaries representing the oldest and smallest branch of the legal profession. The office of a notary public first began its origins in the civil institutions of ancient Rome. Fast-forward to 2021, and the Notaries Society represents the 770 or so Notaries Public practising in England and Wales. 

 

Development of the notarial profession in England and Wales

The establishment of the notariat in England and Wales can be understood through the following five phases of development in history.

1279: The sporadic arrival in England of foreign notaries, chiefly Italian, appointed by Imperial or papal authority. The Archbishop of Canterbury was first authorised by the Pope to appoint notaries.

1279 – 1533: Following the reformation, Parliament passed “the Act concerning Peter’s pence and dispensations” by virtue of which certain powers until then exercisable only by the Pope were transferred to the Crown, including those of appointing notaries. 

1533 – 1801: Members of the English notariat were appointed without foreign intervention. This period ended with the Public Notaries Act 1801; the first of three 19th century statutes regulating the notarial profession.

1801 – 1990: During this period the profession, supported on the framework of the 19th century legislation, expanded numerically and developed many of its present-day functions.

1990 onwards: Passing of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 and the Legal Services Act 2007.

Post 1900: The Notaries Society 

The Notaries Society, incorporated in 1907, is the organisation that represents the 900 notaries or notaries public in England and Wales. The Notaries Society is run by its Council of 25 members, headed by the President.

The Notaries Society has an extensive role which includes, education, continuing professional development and international representation, as well as the development of professional rules. 

 

The importance of the English notaries in the 21st century

As the notariat profession developed over time, the importance of the English notary became prominent. The ability of a notary to link the institutions of the common law with those of the civil law became noteworthy. It is for this reason that the office of the English notary has been upheld in the legal system, even in the 21st century.

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Woodcock Law can assist you to comply with legal requirements in terms of Notary Public Services

Woodcock Law is well placed and highly experienced in providing advice and assistance on all aspects of immigration law. We recommend getting in contact with us on 020 7712 1590 for our expert advice.