Anyone wishing to be appointed to the office of notary must fulfil the requirements laid down by law.
The main requirements are that he has:
- obtained a university degree in notarial law;
- gained at least six years’ practical experience as a junior notary at one or more notarial offices;
- completed the notarial professional training course;
- a business plan that meets the prescribed requirements.
When notaries are appointed by the King, they must swear an oath. By swearing the oath they undertake to observe various rules. The most important are as follows:
- Statutory obligation to provide services
- A notary is not only competent but generally also obliged to provide his services to the public; an exception is made only where there are special circumstances.
- Duty of secrecy
- A notary may never, in principle, divulge information to persons deemed by law to be third parties. The notary has a duty of secrecy in respect of all information entrusted to him in his official capacity.
- In discharging the duties of his office a notary must always remain impartial and represent the interests of any third parties as well.
The notarial profession includes both notaries and junior notaries. Notaries and junior notaries have both obtained a degree in notarial law from a Dutch university. They are therefore rank equally in terms of their legal qualifications. However, notaries have been appointed to their office and thus have the power to sign notarial acts.
In practice, situations often arise in which a junior notary signs notarial acts as deputy for a notary who is sick or absent. In order to act as a deputy for a brief period the junior notary must fulfil the statutory requirements for appointment as a notary, but need only have three years’ practical experience. A junior notary who is acting as deputy has the same rights, powers and obligations as a notary. Where the duties of a junior notary as deputy are more far-reaching (for example, if the notary ceases practising and the junior notary takes over his position until a successor is appointed) different requirements apply.
Notaries and deputy notaries are under the supervision of the Financial Supervision Office. This office supervises in compliance with the applicable rules and regulations and ensures that a notary acts with integrity and deals responsibly with client funds temporarily entrusted to him or her.