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From Middle English notarie, from Old French notarie (French notaire), from Latin notārius.


  • IPA(key): /ˈnoʊtəɹi/
  • (file)


notary (plural notaries)

  1. (law, especially civil law) A lawyer of noncontentious private civil law who drafts, takes, and records legal instruments for private parties, and provides legal advice, but does not appear in court on his or her clients' behalf.
    • 1985, Morris Arnold, Unequal Laws Unto a Savage Race: European Legal Traditions in Arkansas, page 19:
      Originally an official of the medieval European ecclesiastical courts, the notary developed into a noncontentious secular legal professional in France. In England, partly because the canon and secular laws were not on speaking terms, "the notarial system never took deep root." For one thing, an important aspect of the notary’s duties, his authority to "authenticate" documents, was of little use to the English. The whole notion of a state-sanctioned authenticator of private acts was entirely foreign to English common law; whereas in France we see notaries "making" and "passing" contracts, the common law left that to the parties.
    • 2007, John Howells, Don Merwin, Choose Mexico for Retirement, 10th edition, →ISBN, page 49:
      Unlike the United States, where a notary public is often a clerk you find working in a bank or real estate office, a Mexican notary has a higher ranking than an ordinary attorney who is not a notary. (In Mexico all notaries are attorneys, but not all attorneys are notaries.)
    • 2007, John Merryman, Rogelio Pérez-Perdomo, The Civil Law Tradition, 3rd edition, →ISBN, page 107:
      Although advocates sometimes get involved in drafting instruments, notaries continue to do most of this work in civil law nations.
    • 2008, Alienation of Church Wealth in Mexico: Social and Economic Aspects, page 63:
      It is not known whether any Puebla residents did go to the capital to bid for properties in their state because in such cases the purchases would have been formalized before a notary in Mexico City, [...]
  2. (common law) A public notary, a legal practitioner who prepares, attests to, and certifies documents, witnesses affidavits, and administers oaths.
  3. (law, Canada, US) A notary public, a public officer who serves as an impartial witness to the signing of important documents, but who is not authorised to practise law.
    • 1904, The Bulletin of the Commercial Law League of America, volumes 9-18, page 29:
      The giving of legal advice by notaries and others who are not admitted to practice law is, in its opinion, dangerous to the welfare of the community, because such persons have not demonstrated their capacity [...]
    • 2001, Christopher H. Pyle, Extradition, Politics, and Human Rights, →ISBN, page 33:
      Although signed by a notary in New York, it lacked a physical description or documentation. It could have been issued to anyone, or resold to anyone willing to change his name.
    • 2004, Richard J. Rolwing, My Daily Constitution, volume IV, →ISBN, page 182:
      "In 1961, there was a case Torcaso v. Watkins, in which a public notary in Maryland refused to take the oath, “so help me God,” and the court said he wasn't required to acknowledge God [although] the Maryland law said you were."
    • 2007, Barbara Holland, Hail to the Chiefs, →ISBN, page 175:
      This was completely unofficial, of course, since a notary in Vermont can only swear in people who plan to be working in Vermont, and they might as well have stayed in bed, but for a public relations ploy you couldn't beat it, []


  • 1997, Michael L. Closen, Glen-Peter Ahlers, Robert Jarvis, Notary Law & Practice: Cases & Materials, page 1:
    Indeed, in some of those other jurisdictions, only attorneys can be notaries, and, in virtually all foreign nations, notaries are permitted to perform services customarily thought to constitute the practice of law in the United States.
  • 2005, Law Institute Journal, volume 79, page 51:
    Notaries public in English-speaking countries where the notary’s role is taken seriously have similar functions to civil law notaries. This does not include notaries public in the US, because there (with the exception of Louisiana which has civil law notaries) there is no requirement that "notaries public" have any legal qualifications.
  • 2009, Berend J. H. Crans, Ravi Nath, Aircraft repossession and enforcement: practical aspects, page 52:
    It is stressed that the function of an Aruba civil law notary is entirely different from the function of an American notary public. For example, Aruba civil law notaries have obtained a special law degree and they are appointed by the Crown.


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