The Notaries Public ActI 1990 (commenced 1 March 1993) provides for the appointment, enrolment and discipline of notaries public in Tasmania. The Supreme Court is responsible for assessing and appointing notaries public and the Registrar maintains a Roll of Notaries Public in Tasmania.
Prior to the commencement of the 1990 Act notaries public were appointed by the Court of Faculties of His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, under the provisions of 41 Geo 3, An Act for the better Regulation of Publick Notaries in England. The Tasmanian Act replaced this UK legislation and provided that all existing appointees were deemed to have been appointed under the Tasmanian legislation.
A notary public (also referred to as a public notary or notary) is a public officer, usually a practicing solicitor, appointed for life by State/Territory Supreme Courts (except in Queensland where they are still appointed by an English Archbishop). On their appointment they are given statutory powers to witness documents, administer oaths and provide other wide-ranging administrative functions of a national and international nature.
While Justices of the Peace can witness documents and administer oaths in Australia, Notaries Public have the exclusive right to do the same for international documents for use outside Australia.
Most Australian notaries public are lawyers, but not many choose to take up this responsibility. In Tasmania, with a population of approximately half a million, there are only 11 currently listed on the Roll, with the majority based in the south of the State - eight in Hobart, two in Launceston and one in Burnie.
For further information see Seals and Signatures of Notaries Public and Services provided by Notaries Public. The Notary Public page on the website of the Law Society of Tasmania and Notarial Services Handbook on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website provide additional background and information.