Origins of the notarial profession

The notarial profession is not recent. It dates back to Europe almost 1,000 years ago. The notarial profession currently exists in nearly 66 countries, including France, Italy and Japan.

Some believe that the profession originated in northern Italy. In those days, princes dispensed justice. One of these princes mandated his judgment writers to draft agreements for people who were of the same mind. The prince gave these writings the same legal force as his judicial decisions.

Other historians give Louis IX, known as the Prud’homme and commonly referred to as Saint Louis, the credit for having created the notarial profession. Justice was a royal privilege at that time. Upon returning from a crusade, the sovereign once found a large number of citizens waiting for him to administer justice. The fact was that when the king was away from his kingdom, justice was not done. Faced with this situation, he asked those with no real dispute to step to one side and the others to step to the other. He then proceeded to appoint the first royal notaries to deal with the first group. It is said that he named sixty of them. Then he started the hearings for the second group.

Whether the profession hails from northern Italy or France, it was created in order to unclog the judicial system. Princes and kings appointed persons who knew the laws and were used to court decisions. With this knowledge, they were able to advise the parties in the drafting of their agreements. The first notaries received the authority delegated by the prince or king, i.e. from the state.

History of the notarial profession in Quebec

As soon as Quebec was colonized by France in the early 17th century, New France was quick to recognize the need to ensure the validity of contracts and respect for the will of the parties. A few citizens who could write began to draft contracts for themselves and others.