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Q&A: The 2020 Interim Rules on Remote Notarization of Paper Documents

The Supreme Court, acting on the recommendation of the Subcommittee on the Revision of the Rules Governing Notaries Public, resolved to approve on 14 July 2020 the “2020 Rules on Remote Notarization of Paper Documents” [RON Rules]. And the RON Rules took effect on 16 August 2020.

 

  1. What is the scope of the RON Rules? These are limited to the notarization of paper documents and instruments with handwritten signatures or marks through the use of videoconferencing facilities.

 

  1. Do these rules apply to the execution of notarial wills? No.

 

  1. Where/when may the RON Rules be used? Until the Supreme Court directs otherwise, the performance of notarial acts through the use of videoconferencing facilities in cases where the Notary Public [NP] 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.

 

  1. 4. What is the effect and enforceability of a notarial act under the RON Rules? 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.

 

  1. What is the procedure where an instrument or document is to be acknowledged, affirmed, Oath, or Jurat before the notary public? The procedure is laid down under Rules II and III of the RON Rules.

 

  1. May a thumb mark or other marks be used? Yes. But the principal should affix such mark in the physical presence of two (2) unaffected and disinterested witnesses who shall sign their own names in addition to the principal’s thumb mark or other mark on the instrument or document.

 

  1. May the NP sign the instrument or document? Yes. The principal may request the NP to sign on his or her behalf if he or she was unable to affix his or her handwritten signature, thumb mark, or other mark on the instrument or document to be notarized.

 

  1. What is the procedure in Copy Certification of Documents? The procedure is laid down under Rule VI of the RON Rules.

 

  1. Where should the remote notarization take place? All notarial acts under these Rules shall be performed by the NP within the territorial jurisdiction of the court which issued his/her commission. And during the video conference, the NP, the principal and the witnesses, if any, must be located within the territorial jurisdiction of the court which issued the NPs commission [except in copy certification].

 

  1. How many copies of the instrument or document will the NP retain? The NP shall retain two (2) copies of the instrument or document on which he or she performed a notarial act pursuant to these Rules.

 

  1. May the NP refuse to notarize? Yes. If the principal or witnesses exhibit/s behavior that engenders reasonable doubt as to his or her or their understanding of the instrument or document or otherwise indicates a defect in his or her consent thereto; if the principal or witnesses refuse/s to appear before the NP through videoconference.

 

The RON Rules may be considered as a timely and an appropriate measure during this pandemic. But I hope [and pray] that the electronic notarization envisioned by the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000 will soon follow.

 

Next, please. Stay safe.

 

For inquiries or comments, email the writer at atty.joeytbanday@gmail.com.

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