Notaries are primarily responsible for all kinds of deeds and for the certification of signatures, hand signs and copies. Marriage contracts, inheritance and real estate contracts are to be certified by notaries. Notaries record assembly decisions, perform raffles and draws, and create asset lists. They may also conduct voluntary auctions and mediate the settlement of estates and joint estates. In addition, notaries may give advice and represent in matters of voluntary jurisdiction, act as arbitrators, take oaths, issue certificates and hold securities and valuables in safekeeping.
In accordance with his or her public duty and function for the community, the notary may not refuse to perform his or her duties without sufficient reason; he or she must therefore be available to any person seeking legal assistance with his or her notarisation services.
The notary must maintain confidentiality with regard to all matters that become known to him or her in the course of his or her professional activity; confidentiality must also be kept by the persons employed by him or her. Therefore, it is possible to discuss confidential matters with the notary in complete frankness.
The notary works at his or her own risk: He or she is liable with all his or her assets for damages he or she causes. Every notary has to take an oath of conscientious conduct of office. The responsible president of the district court regularly verifies compliance with all relevant laws and regulations, right up to the correct settlement of costs and fees with clients. The supervisory authorities have the power of imposing disciplinary measures on notaries. In the case of particularly blatant violations of official duties the notary may even be removed from office.
If a breach of public duties occurs after all, the notary must compensate for the resulting damage. He or she must take out liability insurance for such cases. In addition, the chambers of notaries have taken out so-called group follow-up insurance policies and set up a fidelity fund for even better protection of the parties involved.
(C) Federal Chamber of Notaries