Evidence of Notaries can be found as early as Roman times. In the last century of the Roman Republic, a new form of shorthand was created. Writers who used this new form of writing were referred to by the word “notarius”. At a later date, the title “notaries” was given to registrars assigned to senior government officials.
In the 13th Century, Public Notaries became much more prominent in society, especially in England. The Pope authorised the Archbishop of Canterbury to appoint Notaries on his behalf in 1279. These Notaries consisted mainly of clergy. However, in 1533 the King of England was given the authority to appoint Notaries rather than the Pope, as England was in the process of separating from the Church of Rome. The King delegated the responsibility of appointing Public Notaries to the Archbishop of Canterbury who in turn gave the power to the Master of Faculties. For the Master of Faculties to act on the behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Government created the Court of Faculties.
Until the 6 June 2002, Notaries Public in Victoria were appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Since that date the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria has been responsible for the appointment of Public Notaries. The change came into effect through the Public Notaries Act 2001. Notaries Public are senior solicitors who can witness documents, administer oaths and verify identities to help ensure that documents will be recognised legally in Australia and overseas. Notarised documents are stamped with the Public Notary’s personal seal after being witnessed. Unlike a Justice of the Peace, a Notary Public charges for his or her services.