TN Attorney General Opinion No. 14-89 | NNA
Law

TN Attorney General Opinion No. 14-89

Notary Law Update: TN Attorney General Opinion No. 14-89

State: Tennessee

Summary:

The Tennessee Attorney General was asked by the Tennessee Secretary State to render a legal opinion on whether a Notary is required to keep a record of all notarial acts if the Notary did not charge a fee for the record. The Attorney General also was asked if a Notary may keep a record of a notarial act in electronic format.

Signed:  September 29, 2014

Effective:  September 29, 2014

Chapter: N/A

Affects:

Interpretation of Tennessee Code Annotated Section 8-21-1201

Changes:
  1. Clarifies that the new statute that took effect October 1, 2014 requires a Notary to maintain a record in a well-bound book of each of the Notary’s acts, attestations, protestations, and other instruments of publication regardless of whether the Notary receives a fee or compensation for his or her services.
  2. Clarifies that a Notary’s record of a notarial act is considered a public record.
  3. Clarifies that a Notary may keep this record in electronic format provided the record is available for public inspection and the Notary complies with TCA 10-7-121 in maintaining an electronic record of notarial acts.
Analysis:

Even before Chapter 805 of Tennessee Public Acts of 2014 took effect on October 1, 2014, the Tennessee Attorney General was asked by the Tennessee Secretary State to render a legal opinion on whether a Notary is required to keep a record of all notarial acts if the Notary does not charge a fee. The Attorney General also was asked to say whether the new law allows a Notary to keep a record of a notarial act in electronic format. The prior statute repealed by the new law tied the requirement for a Notary to keep a record of a notarial act to situations when the Notary charged a fee for the record. However, in the new law, the journal provision was separated from any reasonable fee charged by the Notary for providing notarial services. The Attorney General also concludes that a Notary may keep this record in an electronic format based upon TCA 10-7-121(a)(1) despite the fact that the new law states the Notary must keep the record in a “well-bound book.” An electronic journal may be kept as long as: (a) the record is available for public inspection unless it is a confidential record according to law; (b) due care is taken to maintain any information that is a public record during the time required by law for retention; (c) all daily data generated and stored within the computer system is copied to computer storage media daily, and the newly created computer storage media more than 1 week old is be stored at a location other than at the building where the original is maintained; and (d) the Notary can provide a paper copy of the information when needed or when requested by a member of the public.

Read the text of the opinion.

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