Meeting in Marseille, the Council of the Notariats of the European Union is shocked at the decision by the College of EU Commissioner to call into question the nationality requirement and the forms of access to the civil law notary profession. The decision appears to contradict the previous decisions of the Commission and the Parliament, which explicitly recognise the role of public official carried out by civil law notaries. Civil law notaries have certain similarities to the category of ‘governmental services’ and contribute to the smooth operation of Justice, by issuing authentic documents and thanks to their role as amicable magistrates.
The EU notariats consider the Commission’s argument that civil law notaries “do not take decisions with regard to State authority” is unacceptable. They stress that it is only referring to their activities as advisers and omitting the core of their activities, which involves providing a public service of authenticity in 19 of the 25 EU Member States (21 of 27 from January 2007).
Let us recall that, in its Resolution of 23 March 2006, the European Parliament considers that civil law notaries are “appointed by Member States as public officials whose tasks include drawing up official documents with special value as evidence and immediate enforceability, Article 45 of the Treaty must be fully applied to the profession of civil law notary as such”. The Commission persists in failing to take this Parliament Resolution into account.
We can also wonder why the decision for such a procedure – postponed several times – has been taken when the Services Directive, which provides for the exclusion of civil law notaries in its last version, is on the point of being adopted.
The EU notariats recall that establishing the conditions in which their delegations of public power operate and the effects of the documents they issue is not the Commission’s responsibility but rather that of the sovereignty of the Member States. They therefore leave this matter to their States to decide.
Finally, the EU’s 19 notariats recall that, at the service of consumers and in order to respond to quality and legal certainty requirements, civil law notaries must apply the law particular to the Member State in which they practise and conform to a code of ethics, specific rules defined by the Member States and checks carried out by their regulators.