The creation of the notarial profession in Liechtenstein
On 1 January 2020, the Notaries Act came into force in Liechtenstein. This law introduced the notarial profession. Most jurisdictions can draw upon a lengthy notarial tradition, with formal requirements for certain documents, declarations of intent and legal transactions, such as notarial certification and authentication. The increasing internationalization of legal transactions has necessitated Liechtenstein also making provision for such formal requirements. Thus the possibility of notarial certification and authentication by Liechtenstein notaries has been created by the Notaries Act. The Liechtenstein notarial system is based upon the standard European approach to lawyer-notaries. This means that admission to the notarial profession is granted through the legal profession or a successfully completed notarial training. Being a notary is compatible with being a lawyer. It is anticipated that generally it will be lawyers who will serve as notaries. The advantage is that lawyers can carry out notarial certification, authentication and further services for their clients as part of their everyday legal work. In the absence of a notarial obligation, certifications and authentications can still be carried out by the Princely Regional Court and the Office of Justice. However, lawyers usually prepare those documents, declarations of intent and legal transactions which carry a formal requirement of certification and authentication. In such cases, there is no longer a need to go to a third party, such as the Princely Regional Court and Office of Justice, for certification and authentication. In order to serve international clients, Liechtenstein notaries are entitled to notarize documents under a foreign law. A Liechtenstein notary can draw up a deed under a foreign law if the notary has the necessary knowledge of the applicable foreign law or if each party is represented by a lawyer admitted to the jurisdiction under whose law the foreign deed is drafted. A deed can also be drawn up in a language other than German; however, if the notary, a party or a person involved does not understand that language, or if a party demands it, a German translation must be prepared. There are many other fields of activity for Liechtenstein notaries which are required in everyday legal practice. For example, affidavits can be made before a Liechtenstein notary, including those under foreign law, although the person making the affidavit must appear in person before the notary. For the use or preparation of legal proceedings abroad, the Liechtenstein notary may record the unsworn or sworn examination of witnesses in compliance with the formal requirements under the applicable foreign law. However, the witnesses must participate voluntarily. Further, a notarial deed can be drawn up on the resolutions of the assemblies of legal entities or partnerships. Under certain conditions, a notarial deed drawn up by a Liechtenstein notary is enforceable in Liechtenstein. One of these conditions is, for example, that the obligor declares that this deed is enforceable immediately or from a certain point in time (submission to execution). If all statutory requirements are met, execution can be carried out in Liechtenstein on the basis of the notarial deed. Time will tell how the Liechtenstein notarial profession develops. Today it seems likely that the Notaries Act has created the opportunity for lawyers to provide to clients further services - such as authentication and certification - in addition to classic legal advice. This is convenient for clients as, already being served by a lawyer, they shall no longer need to involve the Princely Regional Court or Office of Justice in order to obtain certification or authentication. In addition, clients will benefit from the further competences of Liechtenstein notaries, including drawing up and notarizing deeds under foreign law and in foreign languages, accepting affidavits, making records of unsworn or sworn witness examinations, producing a deed on assembly resolutions and producing enforceable notarial deeds.
For further information, please contact Pia Summer