Society's News

Notice of BLS Annual General Meeting

Bristol Law Society is holding its Annual General Meeting on Thursday 26th November 2015 at The Law Library, Small Street, Bristol (at 5.30pm for registration with business to commence at 5.45pm). PLEASE REGISTER ATTENDANCE VIA As well as normal business to be transacted, it is proposed to amend the objects of Bristol Law Society and to make changes to the … more

Access to Justice is theme of BLS President’s Address

A sold out Bristol Law Society Annual Awards Dinner audience listened as BLS President Michael Gupwell gave a moving keynote speech at which he described his commitment to the Bristol Legal community and how Access to Justice is at the centre of the community. The highlight of the dinner is the awards, but a rapt audience was transfixed by the … more

Andy King deserved winner of President’s Outstanding Achievement Award 2015

The President’s Outstanding Achievement Award 2015 is awarded to someone who has shown a selfless dedication to helping others throughout their career. Having worked for the Avon and Bristol Law Centre for nearly 30 years, this year’s winner has worked tirelessly to help thousands of the most vulnerable people in society, who may otherwise not have received any legal support. … more


Michael Gupwell of Gregg Latchams is a Notary Public. In this article, he draws back the veil of secrecy and introduces the role of a Notary.

Notaries public are a distinct type of lawyer, separate from solicitors or barristers, whose origins date back to Roman times.

A notary public’s role is to execute or certify documents where required, which is usually when the documents are for use in a foreign jurisdiction.  The notary will identify the appearer and verify their authority and capacity, before ensuring that they understand and intend the purpose of the document for execution.  They will then ensure that the document is executed validly for the jurisdiction where the document is to be used and notarise the document with their signature and unique seal.

Certain jurisdictions have further requirements before the documents can be used and a notary can advise about what might be required and help the appearer arrange for the further steps to be undertaken.

Most notaries are or have been solicitors, but it is not a necessary requirement.  However, the notarial qualification has certain obligatory elements, some of which are completed as part of becoming a solicitor or barrister.  The other learning elements are covered on the Notarial Practice Course, which will be run by University College London from the Autumn of 2012.  The best way to find out more, and a requirement for passing the course, is attendance at one of the Notaries Society Open Days.

After passing the Notarial Practice Course and meeting the requirements to be awarded their notarial faculty, a notary then has to successfully complete a 2 year period of supervision before finally being able to practise fully independently.

For further information, contact Michael Gupwell at