Before submitting your applications, there are several requirements an aspiring notary must complete.
The Legal Requirement
To most small businessmen and women tempted by eye-watering fees, this requirement is the most exclusionary. In order to even be eligible to submit an application, you must fulfill two requirements. First, you must have an aggregate total of seven years of experience working as a solicitor in Hong Kong, confirmed by the Roll of Solicitors and the Registrar of the High Court. Second, you must have been continuously listed on the Roll of Solicitors for the seven years leading up to the date of application. If you were ever suspended from working as a solicitor, here or abroad, you’re ineligible, as well.
Before being able to even take the exam, you first have to apply to take it. Anyone can apply, the only requirement is that you know that just passing the exam isn’t enough. This is good, especially since just the application fee is HK$2000. Nonrefundable, and it must be in the exact format “approved by the Council of the Society of Notaries.” The required form can be found on the exam guidelines from their website on page 8.
The exam itself isn’t easy either. The syllabus states the subjects are the Bills of Exchange and Notarial Practices. It is available online (page 9 of the exam guidelines), but can be requested free of charge. (They do offer a class. It is HK$21,000, and the date for the next one is “October to March.”) You can also request past examination question papers from The Scriveners Company, after “payment of their fee.”
If the difficulty wasn’t enough, they only come every few years, and the Society of Notaries have no mandate to schedule exams. May 2015 was the most recent examination, the next is in 2019.
The fee to take the exam is HK$10,000, paid in the format found on page 10. Nonrefundable, of course. But, if you fail, you’re free to take it (and pay their fee) again.
The Letter of Support
I hope you’re well connected. The next requirement is obtaining signatures from 30 professionals working in Hong Kong, certifying that you’re worthy of becoming a notary. 15 of the signatures must be from “persons of good standing,” anyone who has known you a long time (it asks the number of years) and is doing a job that looks good enough to the Society of Notaries. The next 10 must be either active solicitors, barristers, or notaries public. The final 5 must be Judicial Officers, or holders of a list of judicial offices found at the bottom of “Cap 92 – Judicial Officers” in [Schedule 1]. If you know 5 coroners, though, you’re all set.
Once you’ve completed all these requirements, you’re finally ready to apply. Don’t relax though, it’s an arduous process in itself. Our next blog will cover it in detail, stay tuned to our blog.