The Notariat Across Borders

27 Jun to 28 Jun

Coordinators: Ulrike Schultz (Retired Senior Academic, FernUniversität in Hagen), Margaret Hall (Simon Fraser University), Corinne Delmas (LATTS, Eiffel University)

Description of the meeting

The notariat has Roman and Germanic roots and is based on the scrivener model. In civil law jurisdictions, notaries are among the highest paid legal professionals, enjoying great prestige and income potential. Within European civil law jurisdictions, the profession is currently undergoing significant changes. Various reforms, carried out against the background of the development and liberalization of the European legal market have contributed to changes in the composition of these professional groups, their organization, and the economy and activities of the notarial offices, without necessarily calling into question their prestige and socio-economic position. Notaries public in common law jurisdictions s (with a few exceptions, including the Canadian province of British Columbia), in contrast, are essentially civil servants with a seal for attestation of documents and deeds. Common law notaries generally enjoy much lower prestige and income, with a lower level of legal protection. Notaries in communist countries occupied a similar position, although their scope of activity and importance has increased (at different rates) since 1990. The notarial profession across jurisdictions can therefore be described as highly fragmented, despite common historical origins.

The impact of notarial work on social structures and economic conditions, while considerable, has (until very recently) remained relatively unexamined. Existing studies on notaries fall into three main categories: historical studies focusing on the evolution of the notarial profession in specific contexts; legal analyses of the role of notaries from a national perspective; and a limited number of socio-legal studies of the work undertaken by notaries. Our project will add to this body of knowledge (filling a current gap) through a comparative socio-legal study of notaries and notarial practice in a wide and varied range of jurisdictions. Taking a cross-cutting approach, combining both interdisciplinary and international perspectives, the project will explore issues relating to the current role, evolution and future of the notarial profession. Issues examined will include the demographics and working conditions of notaries; the nature of notarial work; the relationships between the profession, the state, and other legal professionals; and the social, cultural, and political factors contributing to the different positions of notaries in different countries.

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