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Notary Bulletin

The 'Model Notary Act' Takes On New Significance With 2010 Update

Amid important legal cases involving Notaries, and with liability and compliance issues becoming a major concern for businesses and governments, the NNA has published a much-anticipated revision of its Model Notary Act — the landmark model that, for 40 years, has grown in importance as a guide for lawmakers to improve standards of care for Notaries.

The updated and expanded Model Notary Act of 2010, now in the public domain, features electronic and paper-based provisions to modernize and enhance the Notary office. The revisions culminated a four-year effort by an NNA-recruited, 26-member national drafting panel comprised of law professors, high-tech experts, mortgage industry representatives and government officials at every level.

The MNA is intended for state legislators and administrators who want to strengthen Notary laws to improve fraud-deterrent effectiveness in an era of rampant identity theft. An expanded Article III of the Act also allows the integration of electronic notarization provisions with traditional paper-based rules.

Lawmakers and industry officials for years have looked to the Model Notary Act for guidance in modernizing their Notary rules and statutes. But due to a groundbreaking Illinois Appellate Court ruling, Vancura v. Katris, the Act has taken on a heightened importance in American jurisprudence. The Court cited the Act as a “common law” standard which Notaries and their employers should rely on for guidance in instances where state law provides no direction.

“The Model Notary Act has taken on new significance with Vancura v. Katris,” said NNA Vice President Charles N. Faerber. “If a situation arises for a Notary where the state doesn’t provide guidance, the Notary, according to the court, can rely on the Model Notary Act.”

The MNA guidelines define a more proactive role for Notaries in securing documents, including updated fraud-deterrence rules for both electronic and traditional paper-based notarization. The new Act also adds new provisions for dealing with loose certificates, recognizing notarial acts performed outside a given state, and for defining a Notary-certified copy in a way that is adaptable to both paper and electronic originals.

Since its original publication as the Uniform Notary Act in 1973 — and subsequent updates as the Model Notary Act in 1984 and 2002 — more than 40 states and territories have adopted its provisions.

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