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Society Overview

The Society of Notaries of Queensland celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 2022. It has an elected Committee of Office Bearers, and Members are spread across the State of Queensland. The Society upholds the highest standards of practice and is the central point for enquiries and requirements concerning Notary Publics in the State. 

The objectives of the
Society are:

  • To support and promote the character, status, and interests of Notaries in Queensland.
  • To promote honourable practice amongst members.
  • To encourage and engender professional courtesy and practice.
  • To consider all questions affecting the interests of Notaries.
  • To engage in the reform of the law relevant to the practice of Notaries.
  • To consider all future applications of persons applying to the Court of Faculties in London for appointments as Notaries and to support or oppose these applications.
  • To acquire by purchase, donation or otherwise a library and to maintain the library.
  • To provide rooms or other facilities for the holding of meetings of the Society or other matters.
  • To encourage the study of the law, and to provide all information on subjects important to the practice of Notaries.
  • To make, alter or repeal rules for the good government of the Society.
  • To recommend the fees to be charged by Notaries.
  • To do all other things necessary for the attainment of the above objects.

What is a Notary Public?

To become a Notary Public (also known as a Notary) a senior Lawyer must have 10 years professional experience with an unrestricted practising certificate. A Notary is accepted (selected) by their peers in the profession as a practitioner of outstanding probity and integrity.

A Notary Public is authorised to validate documents for use internationally. Some transactions or contracts require documentation to be notarised by a Notary Public when the document will be used in another country.

Common Questions

Yes, a Notary Public can give legal advice and draft legal documents in Australia, as they must be a Solicitor to be appointed a Notary Public. Please keep in mind that additional fees may be charged for these legal services.

No, Notary Publics are different to Justices of the Peace (JP) in several important respects.

For example, a Notary is required to be a Lawyer and a JP is not. Notaries are recognised internationally; JPs are only recognised within Australia. 

Most countries follow the procedures set out in the 1961 Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents (often called the Hague Apostille Convention).

The steps are:

  1. Sign and complete the document in the presence of a Notary.
  2. Present the document to the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) to get an Apostille (or authentication) and pay the fee. You may wish to have the Notary provide that additional service on your behalf.
  3. Send the finished document to the destination country.

Apostille‘ is French for a ‘footnote‘. France co-sponsored the Hague Apostille Convention thus its terminology was adopted.

An Apostille is affixed by the relevant authority in a country which has acceded to that convention, either by a rubber stamp, verified by an authorised person and sealed with an official seal, or by attaching a separate certificate.

An Apostille certifies that the notary or government authority which issued the document is indeed authorised to do so.

Similarly, an authentication will be affixed by DFAT for non-Hague Convention countries.

History of Notaries

The Honourable Dr Jeannette Young AC PSM, Governor of Queensland, said in her speech at the Society’s 100-year celebration “It is, by many centuries, the oldest continuing branch of the legal profession.”

In fact, the office of Notary Public has been steeped in history and recognition since the days of the ancient Roman Empire. The word Notary comes from the Latin word Notarius which was the word used to describe a high-ranking government official. In the Middle Ages (1279 AD) the practice of authentication of international documents was adopted by the Pope. 

With the separation of the English Church from Rome, the task of appointing Notaries was terminated by the Pope. However, Henry VIII appointed the Archbishop of Canterbury to re-assume the role of Notarial appointments. This power of appointment has now been vested in a Court of Faculties under the control of a Master. The Master still derives his/her power from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In Queensland, Notaries are still appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury through the Court of Faculties in England.

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