Duties of a Notary Public South-Africa
(a) Protocol. Every notary must keep a protocol and a register. The “minutes” (or originals) of every deed passed before him or her must be placed in chronological order and consecutively numbered in the protocol and an entry to that effect made in the protocol register. The documents in the protocol must be indexed and bound from time to time. The protocol must also be kept in a safe place. However, this does not include cases where he or she merely authenticates signatures or the correctness of a copy, or a noting slip in respect of a dishonored bill of exchange.
(b) Degree of skill required Notaries must exercise great skill in the performance of their functions, and their office is regarded as one of great responsibility. The notary must observe all the solemnities attached to the execution of documents, exercise more than ordinary skill in drafting notarial documents and supervise every function or step thereof personally.3
(c) Preparation of documents For documents which are intended for registration in a deeds office certain formalities must be complied with and they are to be observed by notaries (quality of paper, ink, margins, blank spaces, initialling of sheets, alterations and insertions).
The document must be read over and explained to the parties appearing before the notary. There must be at least two competent witnesses to a notarial document and the notary must either see the parties actually sign or else the parties must acknowledge their signatures in the presence of the witnesses.
The notary must also satisfy himself or herself as to the identity and the competency of the parties, for example where persons are acting on behalf of others, or on behalf of companies, the notary must satisfy himself or herself that they are authorised to do so.
(e) Requirements The notary must comply with certain requirements in connection with the contents of documents, such as giving a full and accurate description of the parties, their date of birth and status, if the deed is to be registered, and the ending of the document.
(f) Stamp duty It is the duty of the notary to see to it that the original is stamped with the proper duty and that the copies are also stamped with the duty. If the notarial deed is not properly stamped the notary is personally liable.
(g) Good faith and secrecy The notary must show the highest degree of good faith in his or her dealings with the public and his or her general conduct and behavior in and outside of work must be of the highest order.
He or she must observe the utmost secrecy in regard to the affairs of his client.