Commissioners vs. Notaries
Sometimes confusion arises as to the distinction between commissioners for taking affidavits, and notaries public.
In Ontario, affidavits for use in court must be commissioned by a person authorized to administer oaths or affirmations. The Commissioners for Taking Affidavits Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. C.17 stipulates how a person becomes authorized as a commissioner for taking affidavits. Any lawyer in Ontario is, by virtue of that office, a commissioner for taking affidavits in Ontario. There are other specific groups (such as judges or MPs) who are commissioners ex officio. Others can be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor as commissioners. Such appointments are limited in duration, and may be limited as to territory or purpose.
In other circumstances, documents or signatures often need to be notarized by a notary public. In our practice, banks and other institutions usually require an original of a document such as a power of attorney, will or Certificate of Appointment, or a notarial copy of it, before they will act on it.
Unlike commissioners for taking affidavits, lawyers are not automatically notaries public. Notaries are appointed pursuant to the Notaries Act, R.S.O. 1990, c.N.6. Notaries are also authorized as commissioners for taking affidavits in Ontario. To become a notary, an application must be made and the appropriate fees paid. The current fee for a lifetime appointment for a lawyer is $145. Lawyers do not need to take an examination to become a notary: anyone other than a lawyer must complete an examination. Applications may be requested from the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, Official Documents Services, 9th Floor, 77 Grenville Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 1B3. The telephone number is 416-325-8416.
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