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Henry Parisius LL.M.
Civil Law Notary

Head Office Philipsburg
(+1-721) 542-2339
Fax (+1-721)542-2439

Dutch Caribbean

The difference between a Civil Law Notary and a Notary Public

By Henry Parisius LL.M., Civil Law Notary on Sint Maarten

A Noticeable Difference
A Civil Law Notary is not to be confused with a Notary Public known in most states of the USA and Canada (the countries of origin of many of our clients).
Although both positions are often referred to as “notary”, there is a distinct difference between the two.
In Civil Law Countries such as The Netherlands and The Dutch Caribbean (which last country consists of the islands of Sint Maarten, Sint Eustatius, Saba, Bonaire and Curacao) with the term notary always is meant a Civil Law Notary.
In the USA, with the exception of the states of Louisiana and Puerto Rico, the term notary refers to a Public Notary(also called Public Notary).
The same applies for in Canada, with the exception of the provinces of Quebec and British Columbia and for many other Common Law Countries in the world.  

Netherlands Antilles Civil Law Notaries

Qualifications and available Positions 
In order to become a Civil Law Notary one must possess a Master of Law degree with a specialization in Notariate Law from The University of the Dutch Caribbean or from a University in TheNetherlands. 
The law establishes a maximum number of positions for each island of The Dutch Caribbean: 10 positions on Curacao, 2 on Bonaire, 3 on Sint Maarten and 1 for the islands of Sint Eustatius and Saba together.

When a position becomes available, qualified Candidate Civil Law Notaries, with at least three years working experience in the Netherlands Antilles, may apply for the position based on announcements made thereto in the local newspapers. Dutch nationality and a certificate of good conduct are additional requirements.
The Common Court of Justice of The Netherlands Antilles and Aruba (“the Court of Justice”) is by law charged with interviewing, selecting and making recommendations, whereupon the Governor of the Dutch Caribbean, representing the Crown, appoints the Civil Law Notary for life with mandatory retirement at the age of 65 years.

The newly appointed Civil Law Notary can only exercise his profession after having been sworn-in by a judge, whereby he pledges to carry out his duties honestly, impartially, accurately and with due observance of the confidentiality that the law imposes on Civil Law Notaries .Therefore, unlike an attorney, when performing his duties the Civil Law Notary is obliged to be independent and impartial to the parties concerned.

Dutch Caribbean law stipulates that when called upon, the Civil Law Notary is obligated to render service, unless providing the requested service would constitute an immoral or illegal act.
The services rendered by a Civil Law Notary concern Property Law, Persons & Family Law, Succession/Estate Law and Corporate Law, comprising amongst others:

  • preparing and executing deeds having probative value and executory force
  • explaining the nature and content of the deeds and contracts
  • performing Title Searches
  • preparing Sale & Purchase Agreements;
  • preparing and executing Transfer Deeds and Mortgage Deeds;
  • preparing and executing Deeds of creation of Condominium Rights;
  • preparing and executing Deeds of Issuance of Rights of Long Lease, Rights of Superficies, Rights of Usufruct and establishing Easements
  • causing certain deeds to be inscribed in the Public Registers
  • issuance of authenticated copies of the executed notarial deeds
  • incorporation of Legal Entities such as limited Liability Companies, Foundations, Private Fund Foundations and Associations;
  • filing documentation of Legal Entities with the Chamber of Commerce & Industry
  • preparation of Share Transfer Instruments
  • providing legal advice including rendering Legal Opinions
  • preparing and executing deeds of Last Will and Testament
  • Partition and Division of Estates
  • acting as a Mediator
  • acting as an Escrow Agent
  • performing Basic Services as Authenticating Signatures and other Verifications
  • taking Oaths and witnessing Affidavits
  • Safe Keeping of the Notarial Protocol, which comprises archives containing all the original executed deeds, card systems, including those of his predecessors. The Notarial Protocol is official State property.

Although the Civil Law Notary is a public servant, he is not employed and not on the pay-roll of the State Government, whereas his fees are paid by the clients.
Nearly all tariffs for the work that a Civil Law Notary performs are established by the Court of Justice.

The Candidate Civil Law Notary
A Candidate Civil Law Notary is a person who works at the notary office and who is subject to the same educational and other requirements that are applicable for Civil Law Notaries.  Having gained sufficient experience, the Candidate Civil Law Notary usually performs the same duties as the Civil Law Notary, except passing notarial deeds.  With three years working experience at a notary office in the Dutch Caribbean, the Candidate Civil Law Notary can be appointed to deputize for the Civil Law Notary. Such deputizing is only allowed when specifically appointed thereto by the President of the Court of Justice for a specified period of time. During the deputizing period the Candidate Civil Law Notary has full authority, whereas the Civil law Notary will not be allowed to perform any notarial duties.

Notary Public
A Notary Public in the United States and in Canada has powers and qualifications that are far more limited than those of Civil Law Notaries.
In these countries a Notary Public is not allowed to prepare legal documents or give legal advice; for these services one will have to engage an attorney.

The task of such a Notary Public is usually restricted to performing the following services:

  • Administering oaths, and affirmations
  • Taking acknowledgments
  • Authenticating signatures
  • Witnessing and authenticating the execution of certain official documents such as powers of attorney, declarations, affidavits and other verifications.