Notaries (notarissen) in the Netherlands have large practice of law as well as notarial functions (registration and creation of certain essential documents). In the world of legal professionals the notaris occupies a very special position. This appears firstly in the method of his appointment and secondly in the performance of his role.


Although the notary acts entirely as a free professional, this is only possible after appointment by the authorities. The notary - like the judge - is appointed by the Crown for life, on the understanding that he is granted a discharge at the age of 65. The appointment for life is made because of the independence necessary for the performance of the duties of the notary.

Professional Activities

The notary is charged with balancing the interests of all parties in a legal matter. In the conveyance of real estate, for instance, the notary acts both for the buyer and the seller. He is bound to professional secrecy.

The notary is a legal expert in the fields of family law and the law of succession, corporate law and property law. He is also familiar with fiscal legislation and fiscal case law in so far as they relate to these branches of law. Furthermore, if necessary he may have to coordinate the activities of other legal experts. The notary doesn't engage in litigation.

The notary also drafts agreements. These agreements will often be laid down in a formal document, either because the law requires this or at the request of the parties. This document, drawn up by a notary, is called a notarial deed. It provides certainty of date, signature of the parties and easy enforceability of their agreement. Moreover the notary is obliged to retain the original notarial deed and to issue certified copies at the request of the parties.

The law makes the notarial deed compulsory for a number of agreements and legal transactions. The most important of these are:

Besides these there are legal transactions and agreements that are often performed through a notary for practical reasons. Furthermore the notary acts as a consultant in the fields of law in the above mentioned subjects.

Organisational Forms

The position of notary is a public appointment. There are limited posts available. Notaries must have liability insurance. The notaris can be self-employed or he can practice in association with other notaries and/or solicitors and/or tax consultants. He may cooperate with accountants or other non-juridical financial professions.


Dr Julian Lonbay
Copyright © 1995-2004 J Lonbay. All rights reserved.
Revised: 20 October, 1999.
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