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Drucilla E. Bell, P.A. Civil Law Notary

Since most of the world is "Civil Law", it seemed only appropriate that if Florida hoped to become a primary player in international trade, that it would develop a way to provide Civil Law Notaries in its repertoire of legal services.  

In the civil law system, which is the legal system of Europe, South America, and Central America, there exists a quasi-governmental office occupied only by attorneys, who traditionally inherited their positions from their fathers.  Said positions are now sometimes available for a dear and expensive price.  These attorneys drafted all contracts and wills and created the documents for all real estate transfers and served as the repository for all original documents involved in these legal transactions.  

The notaries were assigned to specific geographical areas and served all of the people in their region.  Said attorneys could not represent people in adversarial situations, but were required to advise both parties involved in the contracts, wills and real estate transactions for which the notaries prepared the documents, verified the facts contained therein, supervised the execution and retained all original documents. 

After teaching Comparative Legal Systems in Estonia for six months in 1996, upon her return to Florida, Ms. Bell was delighted to find that there was a proposal in the Florida Legislature to create civil law notaries for the facilitation of international development.  She lobbied for the legislation and joined the inaugural group to become one of the first civil law notaries in Florida in 1997.  In Florida, the civil law notary sometimes drafts, but always reviews and verifies the facts in the document, explains the legal significance and consequences to both parties, supervises the execution and maintains a certified copy of the document in a fireproof safe.  

Ms. Bell has had the opportunity to authenticate documents for a probate case in Paris, to authenticate and verify a power of attorney and other necessary documents for the probate of an estate in Ukraine and to authenticate and verify a power of attorney for the transfer and another for the management of real estate in St. Petersburg, Russia.  

This service is understood and appreciated mainly by foreign nationals but is also necessary for the expeditious handling of any international transaction.  When a foreign company is entering into a contract and advises a US company to get a notary, they are not speaking of an "independent witness" (Notary Public)  but an attorney who can verify, authenticate and explain the details and consequences of the transaction as contained in the subject foreign and domestic documents, comparable to the Civil Law procedure.  


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Copyright Drucilla E. Bell, P.A. 1998
Last modified: June 12, 2008