Mr Justice Alex B. Poku-Acheampong said this when 50 lawyers with 10 years’ experience and with high moral character at the Bar were given certificates of appointment as Notaries Public at a ceremony in Accra.
Mr Justice Opoku-Acheampong said the Judicial Service had received complaints from foreign missions in Ghana as well as the national security about lawyers who notarised documents they had not prepared themselves.
“The result is that such documents look questionable and do not also measure up to legal requirements and status.”
The Judicial Secretary therefore appealed to them not to notarise a signature of persons who had not appeared before them.
This, he said, would help them to protect their reputation and character since most of the documents were used outside the country.
Under the Notaries Public Act, 1960 (Act 26) the Chief Justice was empowered to appoint as Notary Public any person whom she considers fit and proper to discharge the duties assigned to that office by law or by practice of commerce.
A Notary, in almost all common law jurisdictions, is qualified and experienced practitioner trained in the drafting and execution of legal documents such as wills, leases, power of attorney and articles of partnership, among others.
They also administer oaths, certify documents, attest to the authenticity of signatures and perform official acts in commercial matters such as protecting negotiable instruments.
However, the Supreme Court is empowered under section 4 of the Act for reasonable cause, to suspend lawyers from practicing for any period and/or order the name of notaries to be struck off the roll of Notaries.
Administering official oath, Mr. Justice William A. Atuguba, a Supreme Court Judge, told the lawyers that their appointments would not only bring additional income but also enormous responsibility and skills.
“Failure to exercise due diligence, care and skills may lead to unpleasant consequence,” he added.
“You should be minded that if you wilfully certify or propound any false statement or documents or if you fraudulently and with intent to deceive, conceal withhold or prevent any act or document pertinent to the subject of a notorious act, you will be guilty of misdemeanour,” Mr Justice Atuguba said.
He urged lawyers to maintain a registry of all notorial acts performed by them to serve as record.