The Chief Justice, Justice Sophia A. B. Akuffo on Tuesday sworn in 85 Lawyers as Notaries Public, in Accra, with the call on them to apply a reasonable amount of skill and diligence in the performance of their duties.
“As Notaries Public, in the performance of the duties entrusted to you, you must use a reasonable amount of skill as well as ordinary diligence, else failure to exercise due diligence may lead to unpleasant consequences.”
Under section one of the Notaries Public Act 1960, Act 26, the Chief Justice is empowered to appoint persons she considers fit and proper to discharge the duties assigned to that office of Notary Public by law and by practice.
Justice Akuffo said the convention had been that the person appointed as Notary Public must be a lawyer of high moral character, and proven integrity and of no longer than 10 years and in good standing at the bar.
She said it was expected that each of them would bring to bear on their new appointment, the experience they have gathered over the years in their profession as lawyers and officers of the court.
She said the said Act enjoins every person so appointed to swear faithfully to execute the duties of his or her office, adding that it was not an oath that they should take lightly.
“The functions of the Notary Public entails greater responsibility and skill than mere oath-taking. A Notary Public is a person authorized by a state to administer oath, certify documents and assess the authenticity of signatures and perform official acts in commercial matters.”
She said a Notary Public is also an officer of the law whose duty it is to prepare important documents such as contracts, leases, powers of attorney, and articles of partnership, wills, and other instruments.
“A person appointed into such an important public office is expected to be qualified, experienced practitioner, a person worthy of trust, integrity, and dignity. You would play important roles in the lives of the people, by the prevention of fraud and the protection of the public, by acting as official unbiased witnesses and certifiers in respect of important documents”
Justice Akuffo said they were required to include on each document, their name, signature and name of notarisation as well as their notary seal or stamp.
She advised them to avoid falling into bad habits, and as a matter of good practice maintain a register of all Notarial Acts they do, so as to have a solid record of their activities.
“Anytime you have a change of name and address for any reason, you must notify the Judicial Secretary, so that the Judicial Service would also have a current record of you.
“You have sworn an oath to faithfully execute your duties and I have great confidence in you that you would not let me down.”
A Deputy Attorney General, Joseph Dinkiok Kpemka, congratulated the lawyers for their appointment, saying it has been years of sacrifice, high ethical standards, dedication, and hard work noticed by the Chief Justice that has brought them this far.
He said they would not have been part if they had not set exemplary conduct in the past, and it was this same conduct that was expected of them as they assumed this particular responsibility.
“You are enjoined by law to act by the statutory provisions bearing in mind that there are penalties that could be applied in case of any misconduct.”