Thirty senior legal practitioners were yesterday sworn into office as Notary Public Officers at a ceremony in Accra.
Among the senior lawyers sworn in were former First Deputy Speaker in the Fourth Parliament of Ghana, Hon. Freddie Blay, Gloria Afua Akuffo, former Minister for Aviation and John Opoku.
Justice Anin Yeboah, a Supreme Court Judge, swore into office the new Notaries Public.
The officers, who have been legal practitioners of high moral character and proven integrity and have ten years or more standing at the bar, would notarise genuine documents to judicial officers and other public officers in and outside Ghana.
They are selected by the Judicial Service and approved by the Ghana Bar Association.
Justice Yeboah explained that a Notary, in almost all common law jurisdictions, was a qualified, experienced practitioner trained in the drafting and execution of legal documents.
He said, “In Brooke’s treatise on the office and practice of a Notary public, eighth edition at page 17, it is stated that ‘a Notary Public may be described as an officer of the law….whose duty it is to attest deeds, contracts, and other instruments that are to be used abroad and to give certificate, if duly authenticated by his signature and official certificate, if duly authenticated by his signature and official seal, which is accepted in all countries where notarial acts are recognized as proof of the acts done in his presence and attested by him.”
Justice Yeboah noted, “Such a person ought to be a person of trust and fidelity; a person of some worth and dignity and a person well instructed in his business, adroit in framing acts and taking the examination of witnesses”.
Under the Notaries Public Act, 1960 (Act 26), the Chief Justice is empowered to appoint to be a Notary Public, any person whom she considers fit and proper to discharge the duties assigned to that office by law or by the practice of commerce.
He reiterated that the functions of a Notary, however, were onerous and entailed greater responsibilities and skills than oath-taking, and added that the Notary might have to prepare important documents such as contracts, leases, powers of attorney, articles of partnership, wills and other instruments.
Justice Yeboah noted that since Notaries Public played an important role in the prevention of fraud and protection of parties involved by acting as official unbiased witnesses in respect of some documents, it behoved on the appointed lawyers to determine the identity of the person requesting a notarial act.
He urged the lawyers to maintain a registry of all notarial acts performed by them to serve as a record of the Notary’s acts.
Source: Stella Danso Addai/Daily Guide
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