Can I file a complaint against a private lawyer who notarized my mother’s document, because it turned out that he has no authority to notarize in Makati City?
Not all persons are authorized to notarize documents. Under the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice (A.M. No. 02-8-13-SC), only persons who are granted a commission or an authority to perform notarial acts may notarize documents. The commission may only be issued by an Executive Judge to a person who possesses the following qualifications: (1) must be a citizen of the Philippines; (2) must be over twenty-one (21) years of age; (3) must be a resident in the Philippines for at least one (1) year and maintains a regular place of work or business in the city or province where the commission is to be issued; (4) must be a member of the Philippine Bar in good standing with clearances from the Office of the Bar Confidant of the Supreme Court and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines; and (5) must not have been convicted in the first instance of any crime involving moral turpitude (Section 1, Rule III, Ibid.).
Once it is issued, the notary public may perform notarial acts in any place within the territorial jurisdiction of the commissioning court for two (2) years commencing on the first day of January of the year in which the commissioning is made, unless earlier revoked or the notary public has resigned under these Rules and the Rules of Court (Section 11, Rule III, Ibid.).
Thus, even if a private lawyer is granted a notarial commission, but he exercises it outside of the jurisdiction of the commissioning court, he conclusively acts without authority. Accordingly, he may be disciplined or even penalized for the same. The Supreme Court, in many cases, has imposed the penalties of temporary or permanent bar from being commissioned as a notary public and/or suspension from the practice of law to erring lawyers.
The Supreme Court, through Justice Jose C. Mendoza, explained: “X x x notarization is not an empty, meaningless and routine act. It is invested with substantive public interest that only those who are qualified or authorized may act as notaries public. It must be emphasized that the act of notarization by a notary public converts a private document into a public document making that document admissible in evidence without further proof of authenticity. A notarial document is by law entitled to full faith and credit upon its face, and for this reason, notaries public must observe with utmost care the basic requirements in the performance of their duties x x x” (Re: Violations of Rules on Notarial Practice, A.M. No. 09-6-1-SC January 21, 2015).
Correspondingly, you may file a complaint against the private lawyer who notarized your mother’s document if you have a clear evidence that can establish the fact that he indeed notarized your mother’s document without the necessary commission or having done so outside of the territorial jurisdiction of the court that granted his commission.
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org