The Attorneys Act defines a notary as “any person duly admitted to practise as a notary in any part of the Republic of South-Africa”. Elliott defines a notary as “a public functionary authorised by the High Curt to draw and attest contracts and other documents and to authenticate public acts”. A contract or document executed before a notary is referred to as a “notarial contract” or “document” (as opposed to an “underhand contract”). A “notarial deed” is defined as “a deed attested by a notary public, and does not include a document a signature to which is merely authenticated by a notary public, or a copy of a document which has been certified as correct by a notary public”.
The Act provides that a notary may practise within the area of jurisdiction of any court in which he or she has been enrolled. However, a notarial deed which creates or conveys real rights in land must be executed by a notary practising in the province in which the land is registered. No person may be enrolled as a notary unless he or she is also enrolled as an attorney.