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Notary Bulletin

Courts Reference NNA As Expert In Best Practices

Gavel2.jpgTwo recent court decisions have demonstrated a growing judicial reliance on the expertise of the National Notary Association.

In Bessenyei v. Vermillion, a Delaware state court found that
a paralegal who executed jurats without requiring the personal appearance of the signer did not demonstrate “reasonable care” in performing her duties because she
failed to consult with the NNA or review state law for guidance prior to performing the improper notarial act. The court noted that the paralegal was a member of the NNA at the time, and she could have called the NNA Hotline to get immediate assistance.

And in a recent international child custody dispute, a U.S. District Court Judge in Florida was tasked with determining if a child should stay in the U.S. with her mother, or be sent back to the care of her father in Spain. A financial agreement drawn up by a Civil Law Notary in Spain was among the evidence, which the U.S. District Court Judge recognized as valid. The judge entered a “judicial notice” about Civil law Notaries, explaining that they have specific legal authority in the countries they serve.

As reference, he cited an article published in May 2000 edition of The National Notary magazine titled "Common Law And Civil Law Notaries: A World of Difference" which stated that “civil law Notaries are attorney-like legal professionals who act as impartial advisers, prepare documents on behalf of both sides in a transaction and ensure that these documents meet the legal requirements of the appropriate jurisdiction. … A document prepared by a ‘civil law Notary’ is considered self-proving based on the status and reputation of the Notary drafting it, and is accepted as authentic and legally admissible in a court of law.”

Ultimately, the court ruled that the child should be returned to Spain.

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.

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