International business occurs in many different formats. The movement of goods from one country to another (exporting, importing, trade), contractual agreements that allow foreign firms to use products, services, and processes from other nations (licensing, franchising), and the formation and operations of sales, manufacturing, research, and development, and distribution facilities in foreign markets. The duty of a notary public in foreign and international business is very necessary as it provides greater confidence in cross-border business transactions.

With the growth of international business and the advancement of digitalization, there is an influx of documents being exchanged on the international business stage between parties to a business transaction. The regularity of these documents alongside the advent of online scammers has rendered the services of a notary public ever more demanding.

Duties of a Notary Public

The duties of a notary public in foreign and international business is centered on the following aspects;

  • Attestation of documents to be used internationally
  • Certification of the due execution of documents to be used internationally
  • Preparation and certification of power of attorney, wills, deeds, contracts, and other legal documents for use internationally.
  • Administering oaths for use internationally

Disinterest versus Fiduciary Duty

A notary public in Cameroon serves as a disinterested party when drafting a Power of Attorney document. This means that he/she does not play an active role in the legal or personal affairs of parties who utilize his/her services.

An attorney who drafts a Power of Attorney and an agent who executes the power of attorney each form a fiduciary relationship with the principal that is both parties must act in the best interest of the principal in executing their duties.

Certifying versus Drafting

Drafting of documents such as a power of attorney is one of the tasks assigned to a licensed attorney. Attorneys use their legal education and experience in the areas of law that they practice to ensure that the documents they draft are legally valid.

In witnessing the signature of a document, a notary is only responsible for determining the authenticity of the signature rather than the validity of the document or its content whilst in drafting a document such as a power of attorney, the attorney is responsible for ensuring that the contents of the document uphold the interests of the client as much as possible.

Prohibitions and Limitations

As a disinterested party, a notary is prohibited by law from being a party to a deposition he/she certifies or for any document whose signature he/she witnesses.

A notary is also prohibited from witnessing or certifying documents, including powers of attorney, in which she is either the principal or the agent.

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