A notary public has all the powers of a commissioner for taking affidavits in Ontario, and can also verify that signatures, marks, and copies of documents are true or genuine. Sections 1, 3, and 4(1) of the Notaries Act (the “Act”) provide that notaries public are appointed for Ontario and may exercise their power with respect to transactions in Ontario.
Unlike a commissioner for taking affidavits, a lawyer is not automatically a notary public by virtue of office. Nonetheless, upon filing an application and remitting an application fee, a lawyer may be appointed as a notary public.
Under the Act, it appears that a lawyer who pays their annual fees at a lower fee category (i.e., 25% or 50%) or who is under a fee exemption (i.e., the lawyer has applied to the Law Society and been approved for a fee exemption because he or she is retired from the practice of law and over 65 years of age) may act as a notary. If a lawyer charges a fee to act as a notary, he or she must be in the 50% or 100% fee-paying category. No matter what the lawyer’s status, the lawyer should ensure that he or she does not provide any legal advice when exercising his or her authority as a notary unless the lawyer is authorized to do so.
There are certain circumstances in which a lawyer’s appointment as a notary public will be suspended or revoked. Section 7(1) of the Act provides that if a notary public who is licensed under the Law Society Act to practise law in Ontario ceases for any reason to be licensed (i.e., the lawyer’s licence is surrendered or has been revoked) or if his or her licence is under suspension or in abeyance, the lawyer’s appointment as a notary will be suspended. The lawyer’s appointment as a notary can also be revoked in accordance with the Act.
Lawyer as Commissioner for Taking Affidavits
Paralegal as Commissioner for Taking Affidavits
Paralegal as Notary Public