For everyone who needs an answer right away
Below you will find a list of typical topics as well as questions that are frequently asked by our clients.
- How does one become a civil law notary? >
The profession of civil law notary is subject to legal constraints designed to safeguard the civil law notary's competence and autonomy. In Germany, there are key differences between those practising as a singleprofession notary and an attorney-notary. In Hamburg, all civil law notaries are full-time, "singleprofession" notaries. Historically, civil law notaries practising in Hamburg have been numbered between 75 and 85, depending on the volume of deeds requiring notarisation. Anyone wishing to join their ranks has to pass both German State Law Examinations. In order to qualify and achieve the highly responsible position of a single-profession civil law notary, the law also stipulates to serve as a "notarial candidate" for a period lasting at least three years. Slots for notarial candidates are also limited and awarded strictly on the basis of performance. Consideration is given in particular to the grades obtained in the two State Law Examinations, weighted in favour of the results from the second exam. Appointments are made by the Judicial Authority. During their candidacy period, notarial candidates undergo extensive training for their future work as civil law notaries. Following a certain probation period, they may then serve as authorised representatives for notaries (to provide holiday cover, for example) and thus conduct notarisations independently.
- How does one join a notary office? >
Working in a notary office is an interesting and highly diversified career. Staff members are involved in the preparation and implementation of contracts and other deeds. They play an especially important role in client communication. Our notary office staff has completed specialised training and is qualified to a very high standard and undergoes continuous professional development on a regular basis. Most of our employees are fully qualified notarial clerks who have completed a work-study course composed of both academic and practical vocational training modules and focusing specially on the business handled in a single-profession notary office. Many of our staff also possesses further qualifications, some obtained qualifications as the result of taking on an industry-specific degree.
- What's the difference between a civil law notary and an attorney? >
Attorneyss represent their clients' interests and are often to be found arguing the points of a case before a judge. Their actions are based on the terms of a private contractual agreement. No legal constraint is placed on the number of licenses issued to practice law. Civil law notaries, in contrast, are bearers of public office and must maintain strict impartiality vis-à-vis the involved parties, preferring no party over the other party. Licenses to practice as a civil law notary are limited. The profession of attorney-notary is a hybrid form that seems rather absurd at first glance. An attorney-notary office is a historical peculiarity that is to be found in a number of Germany's federal states. Attorney-notaries are full-time attorneys that additionally perform the duties of a civil law notary. They are naturally required to observe impartiality when acting in their capacity as notaries.
- What is the difference between a single-profession notary and an attorney-notary? >
For historical reasons, several forms of the notarial profession exist within Germany. Internationally, the usual form is the single-profession notary, where the civil law notary is specialised in the execution of official notarial business. Accordingly, they are prohibited from also working as attorneys. The attorney-notary is the exception to this rule. Attorney-notaries are lawyers who simultaneously work as civil law notaries. As a rule, such an individual conducts considerably less notarial business then a singleprofession notary. Since in Hamburg all civil law notaries work as single-profession notaries, all of our partners are single-profession notaries. The single-profession notary office is also the rule within other regions in Germany (such as Bavaria or the Rhineland). However, attorney-notaries practice in neighbouring states such as Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein.
- How are notarial fees calculated? >
All civil law notaries base their charges on the standard schedule of fees set out in the German Court and Notary Fees Act (GNotKG). The base multiplier is the statutory rate, which is set at 2.0 for the notarisation of contracts, for example. The fee itself is calculated according to the value of the business. Details can be obtained by consulting a fee schedule that is included as an appendix to the GNotKG. The civil law notary's fee is strictly non-negotiable according to mandatory law. As a result, notarial services are therefore very affordable – often not even covering the civil law notary's costs – if the business is of low or moderate value. In contrast, higher fees are charged if the notarisation work involves the sale of a premium piece of real estate or the divestiture of a significant business interest. In this context, the higher fee correlates to the increased financial responsibility – and thus the greater exposure to liability risk – on the part of the civil law notary. The statutory fee schedule is generally linked to the notarisation or certification of declarations. For notarisation work, the drafting of the deed content and the provision of advice is generally covered by payment of the notarisation fee. Please note, however, that a fee is also due if you request a draft but then (for whatever reason) decide against the notarisation of the deed. For certification work, the fee depends on whether we have also produced the draft or are simply certifying your signature. Special fees apply to certain services performed by a civil law notary. One such case is the safe custody fee charged by a civil law notary for handling payments via a notarial escrow account. Ancillary costs are also incurred in the course of providing certain (enforcement) services. You are naturally entitled to request details of the fees we will charge for the notarial services you require beforehand. You are welcome to contact any of our notary office staff for information on this topic. In return, we will provide you with a cost estimate. We would respectfully like to draw your attention to the fact that the charges due are strongly dependent on the circumstances of your personal case. Accordingly, we will require you to provide certain details (valuation specifics, etc.) before we can complete the cost estimate.
- Why are notarial deeds read aloud? >
The provisions of the German Notarisation Act stipulate that declarations recorded by a civil law notary must be read out in the notary's presence. This requirement can be waived if the work involves only the notarial certification of signatures. If the requirement to read a deed aloud is not performed – even partially – the recording is held invalid. The reading of the entire document aloud is therefore a core duty incumbent on the civil law notary and one from which he or she may not be released by the parties. The parties should not consider the reading aloud of the deed as a tiresome and routine legal formality on the part of the civil law notary: it serves to discuss the entire text of the document and to clarify any questions. Frequently, the involved parties only realise during the reading that they have overlooked a specific issue. This is unproblematic, of course: the affected wording is simply changed during the recording of the deed.
- What is the difference between certification and notarisation? >
In essence, certification involves merely the civil law notary's certification of the client's signature. Often, however, the civil law notary is also requested to draw up the declaration that is subsequently to be certified. Notarisation requires the civil law notary to bear a greater burden of responsibility, since the civil law notary now legally guarantees the content of the declarations so recorded. This also applies to drafts that the civil law notary may not in fact have drawn up personally. In such cases, the civil law notary will therefore always conduct a thorough review before notarising a deed. Accordingly, a certification is adequate according to the law if the primary objective is to authenticate the identity of the signatory. Notarisation, on the other hand, is required when the civil law notary must ensure that the substance of the deed does not encumber the involved parties with incorrect or premature resolutions.