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New course for notaries launched

As the Society of Notaries Queensland enters its 101st year, a new era dawns with an inaugural education program for existing and aspiring notaries being launched at Bond University’s Brisbane campus today.

Society President Margot de Groot said the important milestone was a collaboration between the Society, Bond University, with assistance from Professor Peter Zablud, author of the main Australian text on notarial practice, and Michael Bula, immediate past president of the Society of Notaries, Victoria. 

Margot de Groot AM
Margot de Groot AM

“Until now in Queensland, there has been no formal education program offered to assist notaries in the performance of their duties,” Margot said.

“During our centennial year, we could shine a light on notaries and the role they perform in our community. Now we are encouraging solicitors to consider becoming notaries with the assistance of this new program.”

The program has been approved by the Master of Faculties, who is responsible for the appointment and regulation of notaries on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury. It will also be offered in Townsville this September.

Professor Nick James, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Law at Bond University, said: “Aspiring and current notaries now have the opportunity to enhance their understanding of notarial practice and to earn a micro-credential from Bond University while doing so.

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“We are delighted to have been given the opportunity to collaborate with the Society in the development and delivery of this high-quality educational program.”

Margot said while Brisbane and the Gold Coast were well served with notaries, there was a particular need in North Queensland for more to be appointed.

“It is important to have coverage throughout Queensland. Some senior members are no longer active due to ill health while others have entered full retirement,” she said. 

“It is an important role – witnessing and certifying documents as part of international business, trade and commerce. Notaries also witness education transcripts and academic records.”

Margot said the Society had also invited notaries in the Northern Territory to participate in the new education program.

Notaries have a long history of public service across the state with the Society founded on 16 August 1922.

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Solicitors must have 10 years’ experience before being eligible to apply for appointment as a notary public.

During last year’s centenary celebrations, Chief Justice Bowskill said the esteemed role of the notaries was one with “practical importance to all kinds of people”.  

“The application process for notaries in Queensland is extremely rigorous … that (process) is of course appropriate – the office of the notary is a public office with a long and distinguished history involving great responsibility and trust,” she said.

“With the increasing awareness of what I would generically call cyber fraud, the ability to rely on formal documents authenticated by a notary carrying with it as it does a level of trust and confidence because of the rigour of the appointment, should take on greater significance.”

These appointments are made by the Court of Faculties under the Archbishop of Canterbury. Queensland is the only jurisdiction in Australia which maintains this traditional connection to England. The Master of the Faculties Morag Ellis KC is responsible for granting faculties for admission.

She noted the number of notaries in the state had fallen over the last two decades to an average of four or five appointments per year.

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Former QLS President Kara Thomson said at the 2022 celebrations, that the need for notarial representation would continue to increase in coming years, and the role of the notary was “one of the highest recognitions” the solicitors’ branch of the legal profession had for its senior members.

For further information about the notarial education program, contact James Madden, Secretary of the Society of Notaries Queensland, on secretary@societyofnotaries-qld.org, phone 4639 4488 or visit https://bond.edu.au/microcredential/notary-microcredential

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