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Notary Public

In Ontario, the practice of notarizing is governed by the Notaries Act (the “Act”).  A notary public has all the powers of a commissioner for taking affidavits in Ontario, and can also witness or certify, and attest, the execution of a document, and certify and attest documents to be true copies of the original (ss. 3(1) and 4(1) of the Act).

Legislative Update:
On August 1, 2020, the Act was amended to allow:
  1. Paralegals to be appointed as notaries in the same manner as lawyers. In other words, paralegals can now apply to be appointed a notary public upon becoming licensed by the Law Society. This is a non-restrictive life-time appointment.
  2. For remote or virtual notarization, but only if a regulation made under the Act permits such a practice and the conditions set out in that regulation are met. No regulations permitting remote notarization or setting out the conditions for remote notarization have been made.

Appointment as Notary Public 

Unlike a commissioner for taking affidavits, lawyers and paralegals must apply and remit an application fee in order to be appointed as a notary public. For more information, lawyers and paralegals should consult the Government of Ontario’s website

Under the Act, lawyers and paralegals in all fee-paying categories  (i.e., 25%, 50% or 100%) and those who are granted fee exemptions may act as a notary public.  However, lawyers or paralegals who wish to charge a fee to act as a notary public, must be in the 50% or 100% fee-paying category. 

Suspension and Revocation of Appointment

Section 7(1) of the Act provides that where a lawyer or paralegal licensed under the Law Society Act is appointed a notary public, such appointment is automatically suspended where

·       the lawyer or paralegal ceases, for any reason, to be licensed, or

·       the lawyer or paralegal’s license is suspended or in abeyance. 

As a result, lawyers and paralegals who surrender their license or whose license is suspended or revoked by the Law Society are not permitted to act as a notary public until such time as their license has been reinstated (s. 7(1) of the Act). 

A lawyer or paralegal’s appointment as a notary public may also be revoked in accordance with the Act.

Responsibilities of Notary Public

Lawyers and paralegals acting as a notary public are required to comply with the requirements set out in the Act.

When exercising their authority as a notary public, lawyers and paralegals should refrain from providing legal advice unless retained to do so and the provision of such advice is appropriate taking into consideration all relevant circumstances.

Related Resources

Commissioner for Taking Affidavits
Remote Commissioning

Terms or Concepts Explained