Impartiality and transparency guaranteed for buyer and seller
A Notaire guarantees impartiality and independence, his conduct is dictated by the strict rules of professional ethics and he is covered by professional risk insurance, unique to France.
Rules of professional ethics
The rules, as laid out in the current texts and according to the “Réglement National de la Profession” (National Rules of the Profession) entail various measures that guarantee, whilst preserving the independence of the Notaire, the highest security to their clients.
This is why a Notaire is forbidden to get involved in any commercial activity. He cannot get involved in any matters dealing with commerce, banking, brokerage of property or speculative operations of buying and selling property as this would lead to a shift in his impartiality and independence. The Notaire is also bound by the ethical duty of confidentiality; this applies to him and any staff dealing with a file, correspondence or involved in any conversations relating to a file. Any violation of this confidentiality is sanctioned with criminal, civil and disciplinary measures. The Notaire is also under obligation to be covered by liability insurance.
Liability insurance and a collective guarantee
As in all liberal professions under a regulated sector, the Notaire is insured for any errors that might be made by him or his staff, within their role of advice or drafting of any document. These risks are covered within a collective insurance for Notaries.
Of the 4.5 million documents received by Notaires in France, less than 0.1 per thousand ends up in litigation; this is testimony to the security of a Notarial intervention.
Alongside this traditional insurance, French Notaires have created a collective guarantee; this guarantee covers the financial consequences of intentional negligence that would not be covered under standard insurance policies. This guarantee is unique within the judicial profession and demonstrates the solidarity, willingness and responsibility that Notaries have towards their clients.
Funds held by Notaires for any work or transactions they deal with is deposited in the “Caisse des Dépôts”.
A transparent remuneration
The remuneration of a Notaire is regulated by the State and is subject to a national tariff (decree no. 78-262 of 8 April 1978).
One must, however, distinguish the matters that are subject to the tariff (sale, donations, marriage contracts, successions, etc…) for which the Notaire receives a fee and for which any additional payment is forbidden, except under exceptional circumstances and with the authorisation from the Board of Notaries.
Non-tariffed matters are subject to discretionary fees as per article 4 of the Notarial Tariff.
Are Notaires subject to any controls?
Notaires are systematically audited every year by the departmental or interdepartmental Board of Notaries to which they belong.
This audit deals with the accounts of the Notarial office and a control of the Deeds that have been drawn up.
After the inspection a report is submitted to the Public Prosecutor. If negligence of any kind is found, disciplinary action can be taken.