What Is The Difference Between A Solicitor & A Public Notary

In the UK people in general do not understand what the distinction is between a Public Notary and a Solicitor. Isabel Figueiredo at Goughs Solicitors, Calne explains.

A Notary is a qualified lawyer and a member of the third and oldest branch of the legal profession in the UK. Notaries are appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and are regulated by the Court of Faculties. 

One would ask so what is the difference between a solicitor and a Notary? A Notary’s functions are mostly concerned with the authentication and certification of signatures and documents to be used abroad. As such people when asked to sign powers of attorney, oaths of executors, documents relating to sales of property abroad, immigration documents and company and business documents and transactions all to be used abroad they would require a Notary and not a Solicitor. 

A Notary’s duty is to the transaction and not to the actual client. As a Notary the receiving jurisdiction relies on the Notary’s signature, seal and stamp to validate the document. So in essence, what a Notary does is actually help people who have issues to be resolved in foreign jurisdictions by allowing them to sign and execute certain documentation which will be accepted in that jurisdiction.

In many of the civil law jurisdictions you can either be a qualified lawyer or a Notary. Whereas in the UK you are permitted to be both and undertake work as a Notary and as a Solicitor.


Isabel Figueiredo

Goughs Solicitors