Ordinarily, a potential client will need to physically meet with the notary before the notarial services are provided. Most commonly, this will be necessary to establish the identity and/or authority of the client. A notary may be able to attend the home or office of the client in some circumstances (see Availability), alternatively other mutually agreeable arrangements will have to be made for the notary and the client to meet and conduct their business.

However, some notarial acts may be provided without having to see the client in a fact-to-face meeting or conference. Arrangements can be made for the client to be formally retained by the notary, and for the client’s instructions to be provided to the notary via an acceptable form of communication. The taking of instructions and the provision of services in these circumstances may involve additional steps for the client who seeks to retain the local notary from outside the jurisdiction; for example, the notary may require that the client establish his identity in a manner that satisfies the notary that his services can be provided while his legal obligations are also complied with.

The table below outlines – in very general terms – the kinds of notarial acts where a meeting would be required and where one may not be necessary. However, the notary will reserve a discretionary right to refuse to provide his services where and when he is of the belief that provision may adversely impact on his legal obligations or potentially result in the creation of a notarial act that traduces the reputation, credibility, fame and dignity of his office.

Where In-Person Conference Necessary Where In-Person Conference Not Essential
A personal meeting with a client will definitely be required where the notarial certificate sought is dependent upon or connected directly to the truth of the identity of the client, or where the identity of the client is an essential aspect of the notarial certificate. An obvious example may be:

♦ A declaration, statement or affidavit by the client, made in his name, before a notary public, in relation to some fact or facts;

♦ A notarial declaration drafted by the notary in relation to the client;

♦ A notarial certificate which witnesses the execution or signing of a document by a client.

♦ Documents such as wills, testaments, powers of attorney, which purport to be executed by or witnessed by the person who the client purports to be.

This is not an exhaustive list and other examples may be included.

The reason why the notary will need to meet with the client in these situations is because the truth of the client’s identity is a material concern: after all, how can a notary in good conscience execute a notarial certificate witnessing that his client had signed a document if the notary has no certainty that his client is who he purports to be?

A client will be required to prove his identity by presenting documents to the notary that illustrate his visage (photographic ID) as well as his name, address and any other details. If the client is acting on behalf of an incorporated entity, evidence of his authority to so act must also be provided, such as the endorsed minutes of the company’s AGM or some other form of authorisation.

A personal meeting with a client may be unnecessary where the notarial certificate sought relates to a document, fact, item or object, and where that document, fact, item or object can be inspected, examined, experienced, inquired about or obtained by the notary himself without the necessary contemporaneous involvement of the client, or where the truth or existence of that document, fact, item or object is not dependent upon the identification of the client. An obvious example may be:

♦ A notarial certificate that authenticates a document such as a certificate, a transcript, a printout from a database, or a privately held item of intrinsic worth;

♦ A notarial certificate that states that a copy of a document that is inspected by the notary is a true copy of that original.

♦ A notarial declaration that the notary has inspected, examined, experienced, inquired about or obtained a document, fact, item or object only, i.e. without necessary reference to the identity of the client who is requesting the notary’s services.

This is not an exhaustive list and other examples may be included.

In these situations, the notarial act goes to the thing it is connected to and not the person requesting the certification. A meeting may nevertheless still be required in some circumstances, such as where the identity becomes somehow material to the notarial certification of the document, fact, item or object.

If require the services of a notary public in Sydney, and are still unclear about whether we can assist, please contact us to discuss the particulars of your business or personal needs.