Cater and Blumer

The Public Notary - more than a witness, more than a solicitor.

Sarah Cuteri of Cater & Blumer is admitted by the New South Wales Supreme Court as a Public Notary, in addition to being a qualified Australian Legal Practitioner.

What is a Notary Public?

The origins of the role of the Notary are ancient; from the scribe used by a Pharaoh in ancient Egypt to officially record the decision to build a pyramid, to the unfortunate soul in the Middle Ages furiously scribbling every detail of the birth of a royal baby. Essentially, a Notary provides an official recording of something happening, that anyone around the world can completely trust. If a Notary writes details of an event or action, then that recording is reliable.

While we do not expect these days to be documenting the birth of children, we are in an increasingly global society, dealing with overseas assets or business, or holding dual citizenship. Often, if a person is dealing with an overseas jurisdiction, they could be asked to sign their name on a document in Australia, or to have a document certified as being a correct copy of its original. The country which needs that document requires a process they can trust to confirm that it has been properly signed and may ask for the document to be “notarised”. In that case, a Public Notary is required to not only witness the signature, but also to document that process; resulting always in an additional certificate, written by the Notary, confirming what occurred during your attendance with the Notary. More than merely witnessing a signature, a Public Notary details the entire transaction occurring before their eyes – so that a person in a foreign country can understand exactly what transpired here in Australia.

What happens during your appointment with a Public Notary?

If you have a document needing to be notarised, it could involve the Notary identifying you, detailing what identification you presented on the day, and watching you sign the document. Alternatively, the Notary may be asked to authenticate the document (check it is legitimate), or to certify that it is a true copy of an original. Any one of those examples will result not only in the document itself, but the Notary will sign and prepare a certificate confirming all those steps taken by the Notary during your appointment.

Do not be surprised if you expected a single signature on a single piece of paper, and instead walk away with a little book, bound in ribbon, affixed with an array or stamps, colours, and old-fashioned looking seals. The rich history which created the Public Notary is carried forth into the twenty first century with zeal, and without these flourishes your document may not be trusted (or accepted) by the foreign country.

Is a Public Notary the same as an international lawyer?

A Notary is not a lawyer familiar with the laws in the overseas country. If you need legal advice or assistance to engage in an international transaction, you may need to also have a suitably qualified lawyer (familiar with the laws of the country in question) appointed to help you with the preparation of documents. The Notary’s involvement is then concerning the witnessing of your signature or authenticating documents. A Notary will often want to check with your overseas lawyer that the certificate to be issued will comply with the unique and varying requirements of the overseas country.


If you have been asked to have a document notarised, please do not hesitate to contact Cater & Blumer.


                                                                            Sarah Cuteri

                                                                          Sarah Cuteri, Senior Solicitor Cater & Blumer