Notaries of Europe

About Notaries of Europe

Notaries are public office holders and part of the legal order in the 22 EU Member States based on Latin civil law. Their essential mission is to confer authenticity on the legal instruments and contracts they establish for their clients in areas of law as diverse as marriage contracts, company statutes, wills, real estate transactions, etc. 

The Notaries of Europe are firmly committed to the construction of a legal Europe.The Council of the Notariats of the European Union (CNUE) is the official body representing the notarial profession in dealings with the European institutions. Speaking for the profession, it negotiates and makes decisions for the European Union's notariats.

The CNUE represents the notariats of all EU Member States familiar with this institution: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. Turkey has observing member status.

The European notariats are represented in the CNUE by the presidents of the national notarial bodies. The CNUE is supervised by a President, the CNUE's spokesperson, who has tenure for one year, renewable for one year.

The CNUE was set up in 1993 when the Single Market became a reality. It has a permanent office situated in the heart of Europe, in Brussels. Since 2003, the CNUE has taken the form of an ASBL (Association sans but lucratif - non-profit organisation) under Belgian law. Originally called the 'Conference of the Notariats of the EU', the CNUE became the 'Council of the Notariats of the EU' on 1 January 2006. 


The CNUE's mission is to promote the notariat and its active contribution to any decision-making processes of the European institutions. This involves areas including the legal aspects of citizenship and running a business, access to justice and consumer protection.

To this end, the CNUE set up working groups to follow EU affairs and establish position papers committing all of the CNUE's member notariats. These working groups are composed of experts designated by the member notariats and are chaired by a representative of one of the member notariats. The CNUE is thus present in all political and technical matters that have an impact on the notarial profession.

Furthermore, the CNUE keeps its members updated on developments in European legislation and any initiatives taken by the EU institutions. It also assists in the continuous training of notaries in EC law.

The CNUE does not, however, limit itself only to following EU work; it also makes proposals. It implements projects with a European dimension involving all its members, with the aim of constructing the area of justice, freedom and security expected by European citizens. These positive initiatives, which often rely on new technologies, make life easier for citizens, whose mobility can be hindered by cross-border legal complications.


The notary's mission: establishing authentic instruments



The notary: a public office holder

Notaries are an integral part of the legal order in the 22 EU Member States based on Latin civil law. They are one of the three pillars of the legal order (magistrates, notaries, lawyers). Their essential mission, that they carry out as delegates of the State that nominates them and accords them the status of public office holder, is to confer authenticity on the legal instruments and contracts they establish for their clients in areas of law as diverse as marriage contracts, company statutes, wills, real estate transactions, etc. 

Authentic instruments: a guarantee of legal certainty

Having in many respects the same value as a judgement, authentic instruments cannot be contested, except through judicial proceedings. Unlike private agreements, they are endowed with greater probative value and are imposed on the courts, the administration and third parties. Like judicial decisions, they are enforceable, enabling the contracting parties to have their obligations enforced directly by the implementing bodies (judicial officers), without having to pass before the courts. By placing the State's seal next to the signatures of the parties on the instruments they draw up, notaries are responsible for the content and the form:

  • They ensure that the authentication process has been respected perfectly.

  • The authenticated instrument expresses the wishes of its signatories, their correct identity and the date and substance of their commitments. 


The notary: an amicable settlement magistrate

The authentic instrument is the fruit of a complex undertaking during which the notary has a particular duty to inform and advise his or her clients on the legal, financial and tax consequences of their project and on the legal instruments best able to implement it. The notary must carry out this duty whilst refuting any improper, unfair, illegal or immoral commitments. For the notary, authenticating an instrument involves gathering together and expressing the wishes of those involved completely, impartially and in full respect of the law. This is why notaries are thought of as amicable settlement magistrates, practising preventive justice. 


The notary: a professional at the service of all citizens

The status and organisation of the notarial profession guarantee that notaries provide quality local justice, accessible to all. The authentication of instruments and contracts is a public service, generally subject to rules of geographical distribution and to price controls. Furthermore, notaries are obliged to act; they cannot refuse to offer their services to anyone requesting them, even though citizens can choose a notary freely.

Finally, notaries must guarantee the publicity of the authentic instrument to third parties and the State, primarily by registering it on the public registers that exist for this purpose. They are also responsible for its perpetuity as they must keep the original in their archives indefinitely and issue authentic copies. In this regard, the use of information technologies offers notaries and their clients practical solutions that are ever more effective, whilst guaranteeing the very highest legal certainty. 


Contact the Council of Notariats of the European Union.


Council of the Notariats of the European Union

Phone: +32 2 513 95 29

Fax: +32 2 513 93 82

Avenue de Cortenbergh, 1201000 Brussels Belgium

The European Directory of Notaries offers you the possibility to find a notary who speaks your language anywhere in Europe. A notary can help you in many areas, such as: real estate law, succession law, family law, company law, contract law

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