The office of notary originated in ancient Hebrew times when scribes were employed to write down the law. In Roman times notaries were private secretaries to the emperors.

In 1925 Judge Curlewis stated the following: "the office of a notary is of such responsibility that in most countries in the world, the greatest confidence and trust is reposed in any document executed by a notary".

Notaries mostly certify documents for use in foreign countries. The Hague Convention describes the procedure to be followed in certifying signatures and copies of documents. The vast majority of countries in the world do not accept documents signed before a commissioner of oaths but will accept documents signed in the presence of a notary.


An antenuptial contract and certain servitudes are invalid if not attested to by a notary.