Warning to Notaries: Scam International Organisations

One of the most valuable assets that a public notary and legal practitioner may have is his colleague, or the professional association of which he is a member. This is because occasional advice provided by a colleague or information obtained from a professional network may be invaluable when dealing with a unique or complex case.

Membership and engagement with associations such as a College, Society or Union of Notaries can be essential to a practitioner’s continuing professional development. The organisation of educational events as well as the personal interaction between practitioners creates a collegiate environment that ultimately enhances the delivery of high quality professional services to the public.

However: lawyers and notaries must be wary of organisations that charge substantial membership fees and purport to offer services to their members, but fail to do so when they are approached in good faith.

Warning to Practitioners

This short note is a warning to notaries public who may be contemplating membership of the International Union of Notaries (UINL) for purposes of networking or professional liaison.

The International Union of Notaries

The UINL (also known as the Union Internationale du Notariat and the Unión Internacional del Notariado) is a professional association of civil law notaries which provides services to its members, including access to an online forum in which professionals can pose questions and exchange information pertaining to their practice.

The UINL has a code of conduct that establishes ethical standards and best-practice for notaries operating in civil law jurisdictions throughout the world.

Events and publications organised by the UINL have been promoted here due to the affiliation of one of the notaries who has provided notarial services to clients who will use certificates in civil law jurisdictions.

However: we are saddened to inform our readers that this affiliation has come to an end under undignified circumstances.

Brief Summary

  • A notary practicing through NotarialServices.com applied for UINL membership for a period of four years. The UINL was aware of the fact that the notary was a practitioner in the state of New South Wales. A total of $400 (USD) was paid to and accepted by the UINL. The UINL provided signed certifications of his membership in that period.
  • The notary then was approached by a client from a civil law country with a request to provide a notarial service. As the notary was uncertain of the precise form that the notarial certificate might need to take to be compliant with best practice in the jurisdiction in which it would be used, he approached the UINL for clarification.
  • After attempting to access the online forum available to member notaries, he was informed that it was only available to members.
  • The notary informed UNIL that he was, in fact, a member, and had been so for four years. The notary further asked what the membership fee he had paid for four years entitled him to. No response was received by the notary from the UINL.
  • The notary then formally wrote to the president of the UINL, Mr. José Marqueño de Llano at the organisation’s business address, enclosing copies of his four consecutive certificates as proof of his membership (Correspondence dated 28 June 2018). No response was received from the President or his office.
  • To date, the UINL has neither responded to the notary with an explanation as to why he was deemed not a member, nor why his $400 in membership fees were taken by the organisation over a period of four years.

Conclusion

Notaries are cautioned when contemplating membership of any non-essential but attractive professional bodies such as the UINL.

Despite their much vaunted “values” and “ethical standards”, some organisations will happily take a members’ money without offering promised access to their services, and without offering the basic courtesy to respond to communications when asked why that is the case.

It is up to members in the profession to ensure that the organisations to which they seek to affiliate are indeed professional and credible.