Richard Bock, German Federal Chamber of Notaries: Lawyers are not to be part of notaries’ work
Lawyers are bound by law to represent their client’s interest and not to worry about the other client’s interest or the weaker in a particular situation. A notary has another task and therefore I think lawyers’ have nothing to do with the work of notaries, says Richard Bock, vice president of the German Federal Chamber of Notaries. In an interview for Inbox7 Bock says Macedonia is the only one in the world where you have to have your own lawyer if you want to notarize a document
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Notaries in Macedonia work well and that is why it is strange why your country is the only country in the world in which presence of a lawyer is mandatory with a notary, says Richard Bock, vice president of the vice president of the German Federal Chamber of Notaries. In an interview for Inbox7 Bock comments the other amendments to the Law on Notary
Mr. Bock, how do you rate the work of notaries in Macedonia?
Bock: Judging by what we have been told and what we have seen, notaries in Macedonia do their job so well that I was amazed when I heard about the proposed amendments to the Law on Notary about the involvement of lawyers in the work of notaries.
What do you think of this proposal?
Bock: This new proposal by the Macedonian government is a unique solution worldwide. I do not know any other such solution. It is difficult to estimate what stands in the background. Why the government decided for such amendments and what benefits will arise from this proposal. I believe that notaries in Macedonia are skilled and experienced enough to be able to compile the documents for which they are authorized and that they should certify. Hence, I really do not know why they would need assistance from other lawyers and advisory professions.
What are the main problems of notaries in Macedonia as well as those in Eastern Europe?
Bock: It is a complex issue. Problems notaries are facing in countries in the region and the countries in transition are different. But still few can be distinguished. The first problem is the uncertain climate or environment in which notaries operate in terms of legislation and in terms of confidence in public registers such as Cadastre, Central Registry. In many countries, people cannot rely on these institutions that are the basis for the work of a notary. Another problem is the issue of training the notaries. It seems that the situation in Macedonia is good but in other countries the situation is problematic, and the third problem is the limitation of the number of notaries that work. The question is whether every lawyer that passes a notary exam should really be named a notary or should have certain restrictions. I think there should be restrictions. For example Kazakhstan. There, the situation is catastrophic. There is one notary for two thousand inhabitants. You can imagine that over there no notary can make a living with his job.
Do you think that with the new proposal of the Government legal security in Macedonia would breach as notaries are controlled by several state institutions and the only competent institution for the lawyers is the Bar Association?
Bock: You are right. A notary performs a public service like any other civil servant or as judges, for example. On the other hand, lawyers are private individuals and are not subject to such supervision as notaries who have strict control not only by public institutions but also by the Notary Chambers. If a notary violates a law, he will be dismissed. I have been working as a notary in a small chamber in Germany for 14 years and hundreds of notaries are its members. Three of them have already been dismissed. For lawyers it is not like that. They need to make a really serious crime to be dismissed from their post. You know lawyers are actually representatives of interests. They are obliged by law to represent the interest of their client and not to worry about the interest of the other client or the weaker in a particular situation. A notary has another task and therefore I think lawyers are not to be part of notaries’ work. Another aspect should be taken into consideration. We should not see only the lawyers who work in Macedonia but you must bear in mind that in the world there are large law firms for which it is not even known who the owner is (lawyer, another investor, an investment fund). Can you imagine the situation if a property is sold in Skopje and a great company is interested to buy this property. It will send its lawyer but imagine what pressures the lawyers will try to make because if he does not do it then he will have a problem with the owners who pay him. And to give an opportunity to such lawyers to influence the proceedings before a notary can be really problematic.
Knowing all this, what are your recommendations, Mr. Bock?
Bock: Regarding the proposed amendments to the Law on Notary, I honestly do not know why there is such a need because I believe in Macedonia notary functions great. One of the amendments is also to make some life-long training institute for notaries. It is a good idea and I support it, but I think it should be done by notaries, their chambers alone, not by the state. It is actually their main task to take care of education of their members and to oblige them to be educated for life. Another thing I heard was that an electronic notary certificate is going to be introduced. It is a world trend and it can be done. But here you have to be very careful because you cannot always know where and who may read this electronic document and who has access to it. The electronic communication that will take place between notaries and other institutions such as the cadastre for example, must be fully secure and encrypted. Think of it as a long tunnel in which on one side arrives the message with large encrypted hash value, as they are called in computer terminology and only the one who is at the end of the tunnel can and must have the key to open that message. It is a really advanced information technology but too expensive and I personally doubt that such technology would be available in all countries. Another problem is keeping notary documents. In Germany we are considering various opportunities where they would be kept and we have concluded that the cheapest and most accessible option is to store the documents in the so-called clouds. But this measure is not appropriate because it is not the safest. We plan to make two new, large servers where we will store notary documents that will be converted to electronic form by strict rules of who can have access to these servers. These servers will be completely independent of each other. If something happens to one server then we have the other server available.