A "public officer" is a professional who performs "public functions".
This means that he is vested by the State with public authority and faith, which allows him to draw "authentic deeds" (or "public deeds").
The “authentic deed” is the characteristic "product" of the latin notary system. Even though the notaries' discipline can show slight differences in the different countries adopting the latin system, they all draw up authentic (public) deeds with the same legal meaning.
Authenticity means legal security and reliability of legal documents: these are considered essential goals in our constitutional state, because they can very efficiently
- prevent disputes and lawsuits,
- protect commerce from forgeries and
- avoid damages to the parties involved.
This means that the notary generally performs what has been I has been mentioned as an "anti-trial" function, which is becoming cost-saving for the society as a whole because of the increasing costs of he judicial system.
From this point of view, a notary can be defined as a public officer to whom the State delegates a specific public power, the power to assert (to affirm) the authenticity of a document.
The official State seal used by the notary bears witness of this privileged strength
"Public officer", however, does not mean that he is in any way dependent from any branch of government.
It just means that he is empowered to draw "authentic deeds" (in the meaning and content which we will see) by the State itself.
It means, in other words, that he can give his own deeds a legal certainty only because the State has empowered him to this function.
For this reason, he is also subject to a strict public control.
Having been delegated the "authenticity" public function, the Latin Notary has a specific, legally binding duty to:
- check out the conformity with the law provisions of the agreements the parties ask him to notarize;
- explain to the parties the legal consequences and effects of their contracts and statements, also from a fiscal point of view, pointing out the possible risks;
- be absolutely neutral and impartial.
He is not the customers' notary, but the State's Law’s notary.
The relationship between him and his customer cannot affect his professional duty to draw only perfectly lawful deeds, in the combined interest of both parties.
As a "public officer" and therefore an impartial professional, the Latin Notary has a strong "anti-trial" function.
His deeds must prevent - as much as possible - future lawsuits.