What is a Notary Public? Difference Between Public and Private Notary Services

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When moving to a country like the United Arab Emirates or from Dubai to another country, with a long-term goal in mind, it is quite obvious that you would need to take some legal documents with you. In order for these documents to be used for legal purposes, they need to be verified to ensure that they are authentic, and the information mentioned is genuine. Of course, you would need to get them attested. However, before you get certain documents attested in Dubai, they need to be notarized to prove their credibility, in any case.

What is notarization?
Notarization is basically ensuring that the concerned documents or contracts are completely genuine, that those involved in the signing knew about the terms of the contract and were fully aware when signing it, and that they intend to fulfill their ends of the contract. The main purpose of getting documents notarized is to avoid any fraudulent activities on the part of the signees. So, a Notary Public, Notary, or Public Notary is an individual that is selected by the government (state or central) and is responsible for being a third-party witness during the signing of the document.

He/she must remain completely neutral and should ensure that no one engages in any fraud with respect to the document or contract. A Notary Public is responsible for carrying out a certain set of responsibilities, some of which are as follows:-

  • Must verify, attest, certify or authenticate an “instrument,” which refers to any document which grants any kind of rights or mentions a liability. The Notary must also record such acts.
  • To translate or oversee and verify the translation of a document from one language to another.
  • If ordered by the court, must record evidence pertaining to a civil or criminal trial.
  • Be an arbitrator, conciliator or mediator, if need be.
  • To carry out an oath or take an affidavit

Some common documents which need to be notarized are as follows:

  • Power of Attorney
  • An employment contract
  • Education documents
  • Documents pertaining to property or land matters
  • Business documents such as vendor contracts, letters of incorporation, shipping documents, etc.
  • Memorandum of Understanding etc.

While it is not mandatory to have documents or certificates notarized, they might sometimes not be accepted unless they are, so it is always best to have the Notary stamp them. Notarization has three main steps; the first is the screening of the signees to identify them, to verify their awareness and will in signing the document, the second is recording the notarization in the Notary ‘Journal’ and the signees might be asked to sign or provide their thumbprint there, and the last step is awarding the notarization certificate which states that the document or contract is genuine and the parties involved in it have engaged in it with complete awareness.

Private Notary Services

The above-mentioned information pertains to public notary services and not to private notary services. While the work of a Notary service is the same, i.e., to verify and ensure that the documents are genuine and that the signees do not intend to use them for an illegal or fraudulent purpose, there is a slight difference between public and private notary services.

A Public Notary is appointed by the government, whereas a private notary service is not linked to the government. Since the process of getting documents notarized at the Public Notary office is quite long drawn given that it is an office of the government, whether state or central, Dubai government has taken steps to make the process easier. It was merely Public Notary officials that could perform the duty, but now Dubai lawyers are allowed to perform notarization as well; they can be granted licenses for the same by Dubai courts. There are three main conditions to become a private Notary official:-

  • Have a degree in Law from the United Arab Emirates itself
  • Should not have any criminal records
  • Must be a Dubai national (though there are certain exceptions to this requirement)

In order to perform the functions of a Public Notary official, these lawyers must undergo a particular training course and must take an oath in front of the Chief Justice of the Court, stating that they will carry out their duties under the guidelines of Dubai notarial laws. People can get their documents notarized by private Notary services via a website linked to the Dubai Court Notary. The lawyers have the liberty of meeting and helping clients in an office, but the entire procedure, including the signatures and payment, must be done online. Some functions of a private Notary service include:

  • Notarize any documents required by the law.
  • Maintaining proper records of the notarized documents; verifying their dates, assigning them numbers in the journal, write their submission dates as well as sign-on or stamp the concerned documents with the official seal.
  • Attest signatures on documents or contracts.
  • Check and verify signatures on marriage contracts between non- Muslims as well as verify any documents issued by Churches licensed in Dubai.
  • Notarize wills of non-Muslims.

There are, however, some functions or acts which they cannot carry out and they are:-

  • Notarize any documents pertaining to the endowments or personal status of Muslims.
  • Provide any kind of information from the registers or journals to anyone but the judicial or governmental authorities or the concerned parties (only after receiving a written request or order from the court).
  • Reveal any information acquired during the notarization process to a third party.
  • Authorize or sanction the signing of a document, certificate, etc. by an employee of the government during the period of their service.
  • Notarize or authenticate any document whose notarization or verification comes under the jurisdiction or control of another authority.
  • Notarize a transaction that relates to a company, its ownership or transfer, change, or removal of rights to ownership.

While there are other functions that both private and public Notary services carry out, the key point to keep in mind is that their sole purpose is to authenticate and verify a document or contract as a third party. In the event that either has any connections to the concerned parties or has anything at all to do with the deed being signed, they must immediately step away from the notarization procedure and must give the duty to someone else; someone who is a complete outsider with no ties to the document or contact.

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