E-notary

E-notary

The notaries of the 21st century are professionals at the cutting edge of innovation, at the service of consumers. The Notariat provides citizens, companies and institutions with advanced and technologically innovative instruments of the utmost security and trust. The electronic services currently provided to society by notaries guarantee impartiality, oversight of lawfulness and consultancy, the historic foundations of the prestige of the Notariat.

The technological investment begun by the Notariat in the year 2000 has provided the notarial body with the most advanced resources and information systems for the exchange and electronic processing of documents and data with public authorities (Autonomous Regions, Directorate-General for the Land Survey, Companies and Land Registers, Tax Agency, local councils, Register of Last Wills, etc.) and with private entities.

Notaries: trusted professionals

The globalisation of the Information Society opens up almost limitless possibilities for the exchange of knowledge, business and social welfare, but is not perfect. The Internet, and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), are areas with many unknown aspects representing a lack of security for the public, with interlocutors whose reliability is not proven, or who lack the impartiality required in order to establish themselves as trusted third parties. For citizens, notaries, as civil servants collaborating in legal and professional compliance with the utmost competence, have always been a byword for security and trust. Impartiality, oversight of legality and consultancy have always been the foundations of the high level of prestige maintained over centuries. While painstakingly preserving these qualities, notaries have now added the cutting-edge use of new technologies. As a secure gateway to the world of new technologies, offering greater efficacy and speed in services, the Notariat of the 21st century is a response to the public demand to maintain security and the protection of individual rights and social coexistence.

Notaries and the "trusted third party"

Information Society and Electronic Commerce Services Act 34/2002, of 11 July 2002, states in Article 25: "The parties may agree that a third party should archive the declarations of will comprising electronic contracts and record the date and time when said communications place". It is added that "The involvement of such third parties may not alter or substitute the functions to be performed by those persons legally empowered to bear public witness".

Hence the fact that the "trusted third party" is based on a prior relationship between two parties with contrary interests, and there must be an agreement between them to archive and preserve communications in electronic format.

The Act expressly states that this "third party" may not alter or substitute the functions of the public witness.

This is therefore the natural or legal person that, following an agreement by the parties in an electronic transaction, is entrusted with the computerised file containing it. This document has the value of a private document.

Can a notary be a trusted third party?

This is a fairly widespread belief, perhaps because notaries archive documents. But unlike the "trusted third party", who simply archives and preserves, the notary provides a function of impartial consultancy prior to execution of the contract, draws up the text, oversees its legality, verifies the capacity of the contracting parties and authorises the document, that he then also archives, guaranteeing its perpetual preservation.

The document thus drawn up is a public instrument which receives particular support within the legal system, with specific effects that are much more powerful than those vested in a private document.

A notary is therefore not such a trusted third party, although he may use certification service providers to perform certain actions, in particular acts of deposit of computer files, as expressly governed by the Notarial Regulation since the year 2007.

In this task, the Notarial Certification Agency, ANCERT, is positioned as the technological branch at the service of the notarial body.

The future is already present at notarial offices. For centuries now, in any contract and in relationships with the public authorities and financial institutions, notaries have provided security. Now, in the 21st century, through intense investment for the application of new information and communication technologies, notaries provide speed, convenience and cost-effectiveness, with the same level of security.

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