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What is a Notary Public?

A Notary Public is a qualified lawyer and part of the third and oldest branch of the legal profession in the UK. Notaries are appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and are regulated by the Court of Faculties.

At Lester Aldridge, notarial services are provided by Oliver Phipps, who is a solicitor as well as a Notary Public. Oliver is a Partner and head of the International Private Client team.

The role of a Notary Public

English notaries are mainly used for the authentication of signatures and documents for use overseas.

Notarial services for individuals

As the number of people who work, live and invest abroad has grown over the years, so has the need for notaries. Here are some examples of how we can help:

  • Certifying university degree certificates and educational qualifications for use with foreign job applications;
  • Witnessing powers of attorney for use overseas. This is a common requirement for individuals purchasing or selling property abroad;
  • Preparing certificates of freedom to marry where individuals wish to celebrate their marriage abroad;
  • Notarising documents to deal with the administration of the estates of people who are located abroad, such as birth, marriage and death certificates;
  • Execution of wills for jurisdictions that require a notary, for example Spain and Jersey;
  • Administering oaths, affidavits and statutory declarations for use abroad;
  • Arranging translations;
  • Certifying identity documents such as passports and driving licences.

Notarial services for companies

English companies who trade internationally may find they need a notary for a wide range of documents used in international trade. The following are examples of documents that we’ve notarised for our corporate clients:

  • Authenticating constitutional documents, such as certificates of incorporation, change of name certificates, resolutions and articles of association;
  • Powers of attorney where a company wishes to appoint an individual abroad to act on the company’s behalf;
  • Witnessing documents signed by directors for use abroad;
  • Shipping documents.


The person or institution requesting a document to be notarised may also require the signature and seal of an English notary to be authenticated by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and/or the Embassy or Consulate of the country in which the document is to be used. This process is known as legalisation.

We’ll be able to advise in advance what form of legalisation is required and the cost.


The duty of a Notary Public involves a high standard of care and is not just a ‘rubber-stamping’ exercise. Once a copy of the document or description of the document is received, we’ll usually be able to quote a fixed fee.