Notaries are a separate branch of the legal profession. To become a notary under the present regulations, as well as satisfying the Qualifications Board of your existing qualifications as a lawyer you must successfully complete a two year post graduate diploma at Cambridge University.
Notaries can trace their roots back to the 13th century. The link with the Archbishop of Canterbury arose because notaries were originally appointed by the Pope. When Henry VIII appointed himself head of the Church in England he passed the duty of appointing notaries to the Archbishop.
The status of a notary is recognised throughout the world. Often documents which are to be sent to foreign jurisdictions will only be accepted if they bear the seal and signature of a notary.
The notary’s prime responsibility is to ensure that his notarial act may be relied upon by anyone in the world who may receive the document.
This differs from the responsibility of a solicitor whose main duty is to his client.