Notaries are Not Immortal – Who Knew?

Michael Jackson might be at Number One in the charts, but a Notary should accept death as the End!

The purpose of a Notarial certification is that it can document facts in a way which is accepted in Courts and institutions throughout the world.

The whole point of a Notarised Certificate therefore is that it must be truthful. If Notaries could not be relied to be honest truthful persons then the whole point and purpose of the profession would be at an end.

Detroit Legal News reveals [May 2014] that the notarised signature of a Detroit Notary appeared on dozens of legal documents required for mortgage foreclosures in late December 2009 and early 2010.

Bizarrely, at that time the signing Notary was in hospital in a Coma following a car accident in December 2009 – and even after her death in 2010 her dated and notarised signature, continued to appear on court filed legal documents for more than 3 weeks – the last one dated January 30th 2010.

A Clerk in the office of the deceased Notary admitted in Depositions that the Notary routinely signed blank documents to which the Clerk later added the dates even after her death – sometimes up 200 legal notices per day and stacks of other documents needing notarisation.

Detroit USA at that time was the epicentre of the global financial crisis – there were 80,000 mortgage foreclosures in a single year.

It is now being suggested that corners were cut in the execution of many of those foreclosure cases. Mr William Anderson the Vice President of Legislation Affairs of the National Notary Association in America says that five of the Banks in the USA have agreed to pay 25 billion dollars to settle claims of improper foreclosures practices. He said “we don’t not know how much of that 25 billion is due to the faulty notaries but certainly it was a part”.

It is both disturbing and heartening to read that, at the other end of the USA in Florida this year more than 30 Notaries have been dismissed for failing properly to handle their duties – some of them having been convicted on charges that disqualified them from holding office. Disturbing to read of the need for this to happen, and heartening that something is being done.

I think that is it only in America that the Notaries are not lawyers required to pass difficult exams after years of training.

In the rest of the world US Notarial certificates have long been given scant regard.

Whilst there is never room for complacency it does remain the case that in England there has never been a successful allegation of dishonesty against a Notary.

For a more positive view of the role of the Notary, the internet reveals that in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia the Ministry of Justice has last week ordered that a women should be arrested for “identity theft” after she appeared before a Notary Public to act as a witness and the Notary discovered her fraud. Now that is what Notaries should be doing – not issuing their own posthumous certificates!

Whoever you are, your Notarial work needs to be thorough. – contact me at +44 (0)113 816 0116