Did you know that there are new rules on notarization of paper documents being implemented while there is community quarantine in the Philippines?
Last July 14, 2020, the Supreme Court approved the 2020 Interim Rules on Remote Notarization of Paper Documents, and shall remain effective until the Supreme Court directs otherwise.
Here are the things that you need to know about the latest rules:
The Rules shall be limited to the notarization of paper documents and instruments with handwritten signatures or marks through the use of videoconferencing facilities.
EXCEPTION: The Rules shall NOT APPLY to the execution of NOTARIAL WILLS.
(2) LOCATION WHERE THE RULES APPLY
Performance of notarial acts through the use of videoconferencing facilities shall be ALLOWED in cases where the notary public or at least one of the principals resides, holds office, or is otherwise situated in a locality that is under community quarantine due to COVID-19.
(3) ALLOWED PERSONS TO PERFORM NOTARIAL ACTS
A notary public with a valid and existing notarial commission issued under the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice can perform the notarial acts authorized by the Rules.
(4) LEGAL EFFECT AND ENFORCEABILITY
Any notarial act performed through the use of videoconferencing facilities shall have the same validity, force, effect and may be relied upon to the same extent as any other notarial act performed under the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT, AFFIRMATION, OATH OR JURAT BY VIDEOCONFERENCE
a) The principal shall cause the delivery of the document requiring acknowledgment to the notary public by: 1) personal service; or 2) courier service. The document must be signed by the principal and placed in an envelope sealed with the initials of the principal. If to be delivered via courier, details of delivery must be given to the notary public once available.
b) If the principal is not personally known to the notary public, he/she will be required to provide two (2) copies of any competent evidence of identity.
If the principal is signing as representative of another, he/she will be required to deliver to the notary public two (2) certified copies of the document granting his/her authority to sign in such capacity (e.g. Special Power of Attorney) AND two (2) copies of any competent evidence of identity of the party granting such authority.
If the party granting the principal’s authority to sign is a CORPORATION, the principal will be required to provide two (2) copies of any competent evidence of identity of the corporate secretary certifying the principal’s authority OR two (2) duplicate originals or certified copies of the Board Resolution granting the principal’s authority.
During the videoconference, the principal will be required to show to the notary public the ORIGINAL evidence of his/her identity and the ORIGINAL document granting his/her authority to sign for examination and comparison purposes.
Copies of the required IDs and SPA, Board Resolution, Secretary’s Certificate, when applicable, will be placed in a sealed envelope.
c) The principal will submit the notary public a VIDEO CLIP showing that he/she actually signed the instrument or document delivered for acknowledgment. This may be sent by: 1) storing it in a CD or USB to be placed in a sealed envelope; or 2) sending the video clip by email or any other means of digital communication.
d) The notary public will schedule a videoconference upon receipt of the sealed envelope. The notary public will do the following:
1) require the principal to confirm his/her identity;
2) require the principal to confirm his/her location to the satisfaction of the notary public by showing his/her geolocation through an application with GPS or by showing the notary public identifiable landmarks or buildings within the vicinity;
3) open the sealed envelope within full view of the principal and require him/her to confirm that the instrument/document exhibited to him/her is the very same thing delivered to the notary public for acknowledgment;
4) ensure that the instrument/document is kept within full view of the principal at all times during the videoconference;
5) require the principal to affix his/her handwritten signature on a blank piece of paper within full view of the notary public for comparison with the signature appearing on the instrument/document;
6) require the principal to confirm that the signature appearing at the end of the instrument/document belongs to him/her and that it was voluntarily affixed for the purpose stated therein;
7) review the video clip submitted by the principal to verify that he/she actually signed the instrument/document as represented;
8) require the principal to declare that he/she has executed the instrument/document as his/her free and voluntary act and deed, and if acting in a representative capacity, that he/she has authority to sign in that capacity.
The notary public will examine the principal’s demeanor and immediate surroundings by asking searching questions to assess the principal’s voluntariness.
If there are other persons present in the videoconference, the notary public will require them to identify themselves and state the reason why they are in the immediate vicinity of the principal. If not satisfied with the reason given by them, the notary public will require them to leave the vicinity of the principal immediately for the duration of the videoconference.
e) After the above procedures are done, the notary public will complete the notarial certificate, affix his/her signature by hand, and set his/her official seal. The notarial certificate will state that the notarial act was done through the use of videoconferencing facilities in accordance with the Rules.
WITNESSES TO DOCUMENTS
If the instrument/document bears the signatures of witnesses, the principal shall cause the delivery of two (2) copies of any competent evidence of identity of such witnesses to the notary public by: 1) personal service; or 2) courier service. The copy of witnesses’ IDs will be placed in an envelope where the instrument/document is placed. If to be delivered via courier, details of delivery must be given to the notary public once available.
PRESENCE OF WITNESSES
During videoconference, the witnesses must be present in order for the notary public to do the following:
1) to confirm their respective identities and location;
2) to determine whether they are in fact disinterested and unaffected parties by asking searching questions;
3) to confirm that every signature in the instrument/document belongs to him/her and that it was voluntarily affixed thereon;
4) to declare that he/she personally witnessed the principal signing the instrument/document OR affixing his/her thumbmark or other mark thereon freely and voluntarily; and
5) to review the video clip submitted by the principal to verify that the witnesses actually saw the principal sign or affix his/her thumbmark or other mark on the instrument/document as represented.
FEES FOR REMOTE NOTARIZATION
A notary public may charge the MAXIMUM FEE prescribed by the Supreme Court unless he/she waives the fee in whole or in part. The fee may be paid by the principal through: 1) electronic remittance; 2) bank transfer; or 3) any other means agreed upon by the parties.
The principal will shoulder all expenses in connection with the remote notarization, including expenses for the reproduction of the instrument/document and its delivery either by personal or courier service. The principal will also take charge of the retrieval of the notarized documents from the notary public either personally or by courier service.
PHOTOGRAPHS OR SCREENSHOTS OF THE VIDEOCONFERENCE
The notary public must take a photograph or screenshot of the videoconference clearly showing all parties who participated in the notarial act. A physical copy of this photograph or screenshot must be produced and attached to the notarial register. The photograph or screenshot will sesrvce as PROOF of the personal appearance of the principal and/or witnesses before the notary public and will likewise substitute their signatures in the notarial register.
GROUNDS FOR REFUSAL TO NOTARIZE
The notary public may refuse to notarize in the event that the principal or witnesses exhibit behavior that indicates a defect in his/her/their consent, or if the principal or witnesses refuse/s to appear before him through videoconference.
This pandemic is really bringing new changes to everyone. As we embrace the new normal, let us stay positive and remain hopeful that this pandemic will soon be gone. In the meantime, it pays to know these alternative ways of coping with the new normal. I will keep you posted on these insightful information so stay tuned.
Stay safe and healthy. Until my next post!