French notariat : verification and recourse
The french notaire chosen has a duty of loyalty. His integrity, his thoroughness, his professional secrecy and his duty of advice give rise to regular checks carried out under the authority of the Public Prosecutor.
As a client, what can I expect from my notaire?
The French notaire has a duty of integrity and thoroughness as concerns legal requirements, particularly authenticity.
The French notaire is subject to professional secrecy : as a public officer he may under no circumstances disclose confidential information revealed to him. In addition to the criminal and disciplinary action taken against the French notaire, he is also liable to be ordered to pay damages.
The French notaire has a duty to advise: the client expects a French notaire to explain the various options open to him as well as the consequences of the deeds/documents he signs. This duty to advise implies that the French notaire is neutral and impartial : a notaire chosen by one client has an obligation of fairness towards him and towards the other co-contracting parties.
The notaire is subject to which checks?
In order to ensure strict monitoring of the way the French notaire operates, and to report on the actual situation in the office, every office is subject to at least one inspection every year without prior notice. These inspections concern legal handling of files and rigour in maintaining the accounts.
Each inspection results in a report submitted simultaneously to the Chairman of the disciplinary tribunal (chambre de discipline) and the State Prosecutor.
There are two types of inspectors :
- the "notaire-inspectors" having their offices outside the departements of the French notaires who are inspected (in order to avoid any partiality that closeness may lead to).
- the accounting inspectors (chartered accountants, auditors, etc.).
The inspectors have extensive investigative powers. If they detect any irregularities, they are bound to inform the profession's disciplinary bodies as well as the judicial authorities.
In order to ensure total transparency and impartiality, these inspectors are notably criminally liable for the thoroughness of their inspections. For the inspection of the notary offices of the departments of Guyana, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon and offices located within the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal of Saint-Denis, the designation of the inspectors obeys specific rules provided by the Decree of May 2, 2017.
What is the notaires liability?
The code of ethics lays the foundations of how French notaires practise and, as a result, of the trust their clients have in them. The code of ethics consists of a set of key values including both duties and obligations. The rules are defined in the National Regulations of the Profession which include several general obligations.
Any negligence by the Notaire in the drafting of his deeds and in the checks he is expected to carry out can lead to engaging his liability. In order to ensure that it can assume this liability, the profession has a two-layer guarantee system : a Professional civil liability insurance and a collective guarantee. More informations about the civil liability
A French notaire is criminally liable if he knowingly records inaccurate or erroneous facts. Under these circumstances they are open to prosecution for forging public documents.
Unlike criminal action, which implies that a given offence be punishable under a given law, disciplinary action is used for breaches of the code of professional conduct.
Disciplinary action is taken independently of criminal proceedings. Depending on the seriousness of the offence, disciplinary matters are taken either to the disciplinary chambers or the courts.
What can I do if I am disatisfied with my notaire?
Before filing a complaint, try to sort out the problem with your French notaire
If he agrees that he has made a mistake, a civil liability insurance claim may be made to enable the insurers to investigate the merits of your complaint.
If your French notaire fails to reply, or if you are dissatisfied with the reply, you can write to :
By applying for mediation with the consumer's mediator. Indeed, a European directive of May 21, 2013, transposed into our law by an order of August 20, 2015, establishes for every consumer " a right to make free use of a mediator of the consumption for the amicable resolution of the dispute which the opposes a professional. "
He is empowered to obtain all the information needed about your case to establish how it has been dealt with. The Chairman of the Chamber must reply to you.