A former colleague of mine was kind enough to share a National Post article about an Vancouver man who allegedly acted as a rogue, unlicensed notary officiating documents for Freemen-on-the-Land and others in B.C. who appeared in B.C. Supreme Court on last Friday. You can read the full article here. While the headline of 'Incoherent, bizarre gibberish' seems humourous, an unlicensed notary is no laughing matter. Imagine filing your paperwork for your very important transaction with your lawyer or the court, only to find out it isn't valid because the notary you paid wasn't really a notary?
Like a doctor, lawyer or dentist, notaries public must be properly licensed in order to carry out notarizations and commissions. Just like you wouldn't want just anyone representing you in court or fixing your cavity, you don't want just anyone notarizing your documents.
In Ontario, notaries public are governed by the Notaries Act. Lawyers who are members of good standing of the Law Society of Upper Canada are automatically commissioners for taking oaths and affidavits. To be appointed as a notary public, lawyers must apply to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.
So what can you do to ensure that your notary public is, well, actually a notary?
You can search the Law Society of Upper Canada's online Lawyer and Paralegal Directory. The Lawyer and Paralegal Directory is a complete listing of legal professionals who are licensed by the Law Society to offer legal services in Ontario.
You can contact the Official Document Services Branch of the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services to determine if the notary public's seal is authentic.
Or, you could ask the notary public to see their certificate of appointment.
Here's a notary joke that's actually funny: