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Court Rebuffs Class-Action Challenge To Signing Agent Fees

Gavel-04--Converted--copy.jpgBorrowers in a number of states have filed court actions claiming they were overcharged for Notary services during loan closings. But in a recent case, a California appeals court has shut down a class-action by reaffirming the right of NSAs to charge fees for non-notarial services.

In this case, a disgruntled homeowner claimed that he was overcharged after paying the Notary $75 for taking acknowledgments on two documents in his refinance loan package. The complaint was filed as a statewide, multi-year class action on behalf of the plaintiff and all others who used the title company’s escrow services in real estate or loan refinance transactions who were allegedly overcharged for Notary services.

The Court of Appeals of California for the Fifth District upheld the trial court’s decision to dismiss the case, ruling that Notary Signing Agents may receive a fee in excess of the statutory maximum fees for a notarial act because they perform non-notarial services in connection with a loan signing. The California fee statute at issue in this case only sets maximum fees for services performed as a Notary; it does not limit what may be charged for services which are not listed in the statute. The Notary’s journal served as an important piece of evidence because the entries for each of the notarizations listed the legally permissible maximum fee of $10 per acknowledgment. The court noted that the remaining portion of the $75 was for the many other non-notarial services performed by the Notary.

Similar cases have been filed in other states, including Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina. A full examination and analysis of this issue will be published in the May edition ofThe National Notary magazine.

Michael Lewis is Managing Editor at the National Notary Association.

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