Oh No-tary Public
A Calgary man was recently charged with one count of fraud under $5,000 for allegedly working as a Notary Public in Alberta without a license to do so. In April 2021, a Calgary couple reported the individual after they attended his personal residence to have legal documents notarized. They became suspicious after meeting with him and contacted the Alberta Justice and Solicitor General’s office to verify his credentials. Following an investigation, it was discovered that his notary license was revoked in 2016, yet he continued to falsely notarize documents for over 5 years.
So, why does this matter? At some point or another, most people will be faced with having to get a document notarized. Although this can seem like a pain, it may be required by statute (such as the Land Titles Act) or requested without legal reasoning. A few common documents that are notarized include passport applications, child travel letters, and notarized copies/ certified true copies.
A Notary Public has the authority to do the following:
- Administer oaths, and take affidavits, declarations and affirmations;
- Attest oaths, affidavits, affirmations or declaration;
- Certify and attest true copies of a document (called a “notarized copy”); and
- Witness or certify and attest the execution of a document.
In addition, a Notary Public who is a judge or lawyer may also witness, certify or attest deeds, contacts, and commercial instruments, such as a promissory note.
Some people are Notaries Public because of their office or status, including judges, lawyers or students-at-law, members of the Alberta legislature, and members of Parliament from Alberta. However, an appointment can also be made for Notaries Public under the Notaries and Commissioners Act for those outside of the aforementioned office/status.
The CPS Economic Crimes Unit emphasized that it is imperative for the integrity of the notary process to be maintained and protected. Notaries Public serve the purpose of being an impartial review of a person signing a document for identity, willingness, and awareness. The notary process ultimately deters document fraud and helps protect both personal rights and the property of individuals.
Further information about Notaries Public, the application process, and the Code of Conduct for Notaries Public can be found at https://www.alberta.ca/notaries-and-commissioners.aspx .