Official website of Notaires de France

Authentic instruments

  • What is an authentic instrument ?

    • Authentic instruments are documents drawn up and executed with due formality by a public officer entitled to do so in the place where it is drawn up.

    • They differ from private documents which are only signed by the parties and do not require the presence of the drafter and which may be executed anywhere, even abroad.

  • Specific features of authentic instrument

    • At the time the instrument is signed.

    • The signatories to the instrument are present : The Notaire can therefore check the identity, legal capacity and any proxies held by the parties.

    • The Notaire is present : He is in a position to throw light on the scope of the parties' undertakings, the consequences of the instrument, and provide all useful information the parties require. The Notaire ensures that the contract is fair and that the parties are giving their real, informed, legally valid consent.

    • The Notaire signs the instrument : In his capacity as a public officer, he grants by his signature the authenticity to the instrument that he administers and gives his personal guarantee on the instrument's content and date.
  • Effectiveness of authentic instruments

    • This is intrinsic to the instrument :

    • Legal date : Authentic instruments include a guaranteed date, thereby simplifying proof.

    • Probative value : Authentic instruments guarantee the accuracy of their content, namely facts observed and checked by a Notaire. Evidence in rebuttal may only be brought using a complex procedure that is equivalent to challenging a legal ruling on the grounds of the judge being partial.

    • Enforceability : When debtors fail to perform their financial obligations, an authentic instrument avoids the necessity for the creditor to obtain a court ruling for taking an action for non-payment; whereas if the debt is only recorded in a private document, a court ruling is strictly required. Just like court rulings, authentic instruments are automatically enforceable.

  • A legal instrument in tune with the needs of modern society

    • Its formal nature protects the individual freedom,

    • Its effectiveness ensures the protection of economic interests,

    • Its transparency means the State authorities are kept informed.


The security it provides makes it a force for legal freedom as it protects the weak against the strong and consumers against professionals.

It constitutes a type of proof that makes it particularly effective for electronic contracts, while making the creation of new, ever-mounting protective legal regulations (laws, decrees, etc.) unnecessary.