In 2010 a small group of notaries from around the world met in Dublin, Ireland and formed an association with the intention of representing the interests, primarily, of common law notaries but not exclusively so. It was deemed that membership of the organisation should also be open to notaries operating within civil law jurisdictions broadly represented by UINL.

A company was formed limited by guarantee to protect the interests of active contributors. Seed capital was sought from various notariats and the administration was to be based in British Columbia, Canada under the presidency of Ken Sherk.

An inaugural conference took place in Dun Laoghaire County Dublin in 2013 and was regarded as a success but a second conference failed to materialise in 2016 and operations waned despite meetings in the background.

As support for the organisation began to fall away it was decided at a meeting of directors of the organisation attended by representatives from British Columbia, New Zealand, Ireland, England and Wales to invite the Irish delegates to take over the administration and at that meeting in January 2018 Leo Mangan was elected as president to serve two years from March 2018.

A new website was launched and an e-zine created to disseminate printed material online regarding notarial related subject matter for circulation on a global basis. The publication is entitled “Notary World”.

In October 2018 the Australia & New Zealand College of Notaries assembled for a well-attended conference in Singapore. Following the conference 17 notaries representing common law jurisdictions throughout the world met at the invitation of Joe Lukaitis the conference chairman. A list of the attendees is attached and included among them were Andrew Johnson and Anthony Northey.

The meeting was called with a view to creating a forum for individual common law notaries. The participants were there by invitation and each member was invited to speak.

Because of the presence of delegates from Singapore, Tasmania and Fiji (none of whom has a representative body) it was agreed that it would be helpful to have a mechanism to enable notaries working within an identifiable jurisdiction to come together with a view to forming a society, association or faculty, of notaries in their jurisdictions. The principal object would be to establish a gold standard of practice that would meet global notarial expectations.

A view was expressed that the work of a forum would duplicate the work of WON. The role of WON was discussed. While it was appreciated that it now appears to have purpose and direction it was evident that its existence has had a negative effect on the relationship of some notariats with UINL. More than one contributor suggested that a change of name would be helpful for the following reasons:

  • to identify with common law practitioners;
  • to prepare a fresh agenda; and
  • to encourage renewed participation.

There was also general agreement that the emphasis of the organisation should be directed towards education rather than regulation or representation. The view of one member was to allow some concession in favour of younger practitioners.

The directors of WON then met informally and invited 5 other notaries as listed to discuss and explore a way forward.

It was proposed that the organisation adopt a new name. There was general agreement that it should be named the Common Law Association of Notaries.  It was also noted that a more positive disposition towards the organisation now prevails.

It was agreed that the composition of the directorate be determined by the notariats and not by individuals. It was also agreed that all the notarial societies or notariats be invited to join and to share in the e-zine publications. Therefore, nominations will be sought to reinvigorate the board and a proposal would then be tabled to rename and rebrand the organisation. That meeting took place in Dublin on 8 March 2019.

As well as contacting formal and informal associations of notaries for the purpose of having each association distribute “Notary World” in its jurisdiction WON/Common Law Association of Notaries will seek individual associate members providing a direct footprint for WON/Common Law Association of Notaries in member and non-member associations.

The feeling of goodwill for the enterprise was palpable as the business of the day came to a close with promises of renewal at the 2020 conference of ANZCN in The Hague.

Justin McKenna

Common Law Association of Notaries