The Revised Uniform Law of Notarial Act will take effect on October 26, 2017 in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Department of State published its notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
This long awaited Notarial Act will replace previous laws enacted in 1941 and 1953. The law was actually passed in 2013, but compliance requirements for the state are just being completed. The law was always scheduled to take effect 180 days after approval from the when Department of State completed its work on new programs for the education of notaries in the state.
This is a sweeping change of notarial law, and includes many important updates. Some of them are simple and common sense. For example, the new law requires that a notary to identify the identity of any person for whom a notarial act is performed. It also simplifies the process to notarize electronic documents.
Some of the other changes are more complex and should make you take note.
Users of notary services are protected from errors and omissions by notaries and challenges to the validity of notary certificates. The failure of a notarial officer to perform a duty or meet a requirement of the law will not invalidate a notarial act. Instead, any remedies for misconduct by a notary aided or abetted by a user of notarial services must be sought under other laws. In addition, a rebuttable presumption is provided regarding the validity of the signatures and titles of notarial officers and a conclusive presumption is provided with respect to the authority of judicial officers to perform notarial acts
This section in particular is of note, and we are going to have to see how it plays out. While it disallows a notarial act to be invalidated because of failure to have perfect documents, it also opens an avenue to pursue “remedies for misconduct” through other channels, presumably civil.
Sanctions for violating the law will also increase. Greater enforcement powers have been granted to the Department of State, and sanctions have been increased.
Of course, this is accompanied by new notarial forms to help keep you in compliance, as well as new, mandatory training for new notaries, as well as those seeking to re-instate their license.
Pennsylvania is now the 7th state to adopt the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts, with more states likely to follow in upcoming years. It was also the birthplace of the notary that helped found a nation.