Notaires in France are Public Officials appointed by the Ministry of Justice and have their own system and practice which is distinctive from the other profession of Avocat or even Solicitors.
They are empowered to place the French State Seal on the deeds that they prepare. These deeds fall into a category of public document and are difficult to challenge. They are automatically evidence of their origin and of the facts and statement they record. They are also recognised as evidence in Court.
The Public Status or the authenticity of the Notarial French Act would be lost only if it is declared false by the Court following the procedure known in France as Inscription de Faux. The Notaire has also a duty of care towards his clients and cannot restrict his duty as a solicitor would do when agreeing the terms of his retainer with a client.
A Notaire can act for both parties in a transaction and his duty of care obliges him to be impartial or never favour one party. Notaires are free to deal with properties anywhere in France and clients could decide to appoint a Notaire that could be recommended by a friend or a UK solicitor even if he is not local.
A Notaire will be liable for any negligence occurring in relation to the documentation he prepares or the advice or lack of advice given. The concept of inadequate professional service is not as developed or regulated as in the UK and Notaires will not incur any penalty if, for instance, they are slow and unable to organise their time in a diligent and professional manner.
In addition Notaires are insured for the work that they carry out but there is also a professional guarantee provided by all members of this profession whereby all are personally liable for the work of their colleagues.
Notaires will also be alert to the possibility of their client using them to launder their money which may expose themselves to offences. The Financial and Monetary Act regulates French Money Laundering and Notaires and they have a duty to report any suspicious source of money that may be transferred into their account.