The Economist has a great article about the current role of the notaries all over the world. Their services vary depending on the jurisdiction and the local laws in effect – certification of various documents, exclusive conveyancing services etc. In general, notary role depends on whether the practice is located in common law legal system or in the continental legal system.
Difference between UK and Bulgarian Notary Public
Unlike in the UK, where solicitors can certify documents along with the notaries public, in Bulgaria solicitors registered in the Bar, can not certify documents. Only notaries public has been granted by the state to provide certification services. There is only one exception - solicitors can certify documents that are used in the litigation process only.
The main role of the Bulgarian notary public is to certify and to make all subsequent checks – identity check, ownership and property encumbrances checks etc. Normally notaries are can also be asked by the parties for consultation and preparation of documents, but only if the latter two are connected to the notarial proceedings (ref Art. 22 of the Notary Public and Notarial Practice Act). It is however doubtful whether a notary can provide objective advice to both parties simultaneously. Notaries shouldn’t provide commercial or litigation legal services.
The Economist articles mentioned some of the problems of non-reformed notarial services create – bureaucracy burden, increasing the costs for property deals etc. Of course these are also valid for Bulgaria, especially in connection of couple of typical Bulgarian ones.
Drawbacks of using Bulgarian Notary Public
- Bulgarian notaries are reluctant to interpret ambiguous legal regulations. They just refuse to act, until “ordered” by the Notary Chambers.
- Most of the notaries are not updated on the latest changes to the EU regulations. This creates huge problems to EU citizens who want to exercise their EU rights in Bulgaria. The latest example was the problems with buying regulated land directly on buyer’s personal name. Despite that the option is available since January 2012, it was needed almost half an year, for the notaries to accept the regulations of the Bulgaria’s EU Accession treaty (signed 2007!)
It not all negative though. There quite few good examples of modern thinking notaries in Bulgaria.They work with emails very good, accept different point of view of the solicitors, try to do the work within the legal requirements without being stubborn.
Unfortunately there is no alternative to the notary services in some areas such as conveyancing. With some new high-tech areas such as copyright of software and the dynamically evolving trading parties can use the new electronic certifications/signing methods. I wonder when such online notary will be recognised in Bulgaria?