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[Myanmar] Being a Notary Public in Myanmar

Hnin Thiri Aung



The act of notarization originates from Ancient Roman Republic when public officials of the Senate and courts, recorded public proceedings, transcribed state papers, supplied magistrates with legal forms and registered the decrees and judgments of the magistrates.


Nowadays, documents are notarized documents to make them acceptable to judicial or other public authorities in a foreign country or jurisdiction in which they will be used, since these contracts may be used in different jurisdictions. As the act of notarization is an acknowledgement of the documents, it is useful in preventing fraud, forgery and identity theft.


The role of the Notary Public in Myanmar


A notary public is a public officer who has legal authority to see that documents are correctly signed or that they are true copies or to make these documents official or legal. In some jurisdictions, the notary public may also act like attorneys such as giving advice to clients or drafting legal documents.


In Myanmar, a notary public translates signs and stamps documents such as educational degrees or certificates, transcripts, affidavits, contracts, recommendation letters, medical documents and any other document in Burmese language which may be submitted to other governments. There are also some notaries who may give some legal advice to their clients. However, as all of the notaries are advocates and there are no specific rules or regulations precisely regulating the power of notaries, it is unclear whether giving legal advice is actually within the power of a notary public.


Who can become a Notary Public in Myanmar?


The procedure to become a notary public is opaque in Myanmar due to the lack of rules and regulations.


It is generally acknowledged that any lawyer who has at least twenty years’ experience in the legal field or any retired judges of the Supreme Court of the Union or any retired director general and directors of a specific department such as Office of Union Chief Judge, Office of the Supreme Court of the Union and Office of the Union Judicial Supervision which are running under the Supreme Court of the Union, having good reputation can apply to become a notary public.


It is also unclear on what basis or qualification such notary public license is bestowed and what is the term of such license.


As of 2018, there are around 80 notary publics nationwide.[1]


How to become a Notary Public and in Myanmar?


While in most countries the profession of notary public is strictly regulated by an extensive legal framework this is not the case yet in Myanmar and the legal framework related to public notary is in fact very limited.


Under the Negotiable Instrument Act, 1881, it is prescribed that “the President of the Union may, from time to time, by notification in the Gazette, appoint any person, by name or by virtue of his office, to be a notary public under this Act and to exercise his function as such within any local area and may, by like notification, remove from any office any notary public appointed under this Act”.[2]


In addition, “the President of the Union may, from time to time, by notification in the Gazette, make rules consistent with this Act for the guidance and control of notaries public appointed under, this Act and may by such rules, fix the fees payable to such notaries.[3]


Currently, the Union Chief Judges of the Supreme Court of the Union has been appointing notaries public by notification in Gazette on behalf of the President of the Union. The examples of such notifications in Gazette can be seen below.






Conclusion


The lack of enacted laws and rules regulating the notary public profession is a concern as the public has little knowledge on the types of documents which need notarization or to what extent a notary public has authority.


On some occasions, some notary publics have also been banned by the Embassies who will not accept documents notarized by them.

[1] https://cacj-ajp.org/myanmar/resources/directory-of-public-notaries-as-at-january-2018/ [2] Section 138 of the Negotiable Instrument Act, 1881 [3] Section 139 of the Negotiable Instrument Act, 1881

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