SCS/SB 140 - This act repeals the current law regulating notaries public and replaces it with a new chapter.
APPLICATION AND COMMISSION OF NOTARIES PUBLIC
(Sections 486.605 through 486.635)
In order to be commissioned as a notary, a person must be at least 18 years old, reside or have a regular place of work or business in Missouri, be a legal resident of the United States, read and write English, pass an examination, and submit an application with the Secretary of State (SOS). The SOS is given discretion to deny any application for reasons specified in the act. Once the SOS has granted an application for a notary commission, the commission shall be presented to the appropriate county clerk and the applicant shall take an oath of office and present a $10,000 bond within 60 days of the commission being issued.
Notary commissions last for a period of 4 years, or until the commission is revoked by the SOS or resigned by the person holding the commission. A notary commission issued to a person prior to the effective date of this act shall not be invalidated, provided that once such commission expires this act shall apply to the application for any new commission thereafter.
PERSONS PERMITTED TO PERFORM NOTARIAL ACTS (Section 486.775)
The following persons are permitted to perform notarial acts within this state:
• A notary;
• A judge, clerk, or deputy clerk of any Missouri court; or
• Any other person authorized by Missouri law to perform a specific notarial act.
NOTARIAL ACTS AND FEES (sections 486.640 through 486.695
And sections 486.740 through 486.770)
The act provides that a notary can perform any of the following notarial acts:
• Oaths and affirmations;
• Signature witnessings;
• Copy certifications; and
• Any other act specifically authorized by Missouri law.
The act further restricts the manner in which a notarial act may be performed. Additionally, for every notarial act involving a document, a notary shall properly complete a notarial certificate which shall include specified information.
The maximum fees that can be charged for performing a notarial act range from $1 to $5, depending on the type of notarial act requested. The act permits a notary to charge a travel fee. However, a notary may not discriminate in the charging of fees based on the characteristics of the principal if such attributes would be a basis for employment discrimination under Missouri law.
The act has specific requirements for electronic notarial acts and for any notarized document sent to another state or nation.
NOTARY JOURNAL (Section 486.700 through 486.720)
Notaries are required to keep a chronological journal of notarial acts for a period of no less than 10 years following the last notarial act. The act stipulates the information that is required to be recorded in the journal. The journal may be examined and copied without restriction by a law enforcement officer in the course of an official investigation, subpoenaed by court order, pursuant to subpoena power as authorized by law, or surrendered at the direction of the secretary. Nothing in this provision shall prevent a notary public from seeking appropriate judicial protective orders.
OFFICIAL NOTARY SEAL (Sections 486.725 through 486.735)
Notaries are required to use an official seal when notarizing a paper document and the act regulates what information must be present on and adjacent to the seal. At the expiration of the notary commission or upon resignation of the commission, the seal must be destroyed. If the notary commission has been revoked, the seal shall be delivered to the SOS for disposal. Failure to do so could result in a fine of $500, at the discretion of the SOS.
The act requires vendors and manufacturers to register with the SOS prior to selling or manufacturing notary seals. Furthermore, prior to providing a notary seal to a purchaser claiming to be a notary, the vendor or manufacturer shall require such person to present a notary commission. A vendor or manufacturer failing to comply with these requirements shall be subject to a fine of $1,000 for each violation. For multiple violations, a vendor's permission to sell or manufacture notary seals may be withdrawn by the SOS.
REVOCATION AND SUSPENSION OF NOTARY COMMISSIONS
(Sections 486.810 through 486.820)
The SOS is permitted to revoke and suspend notary commissions under this act under certain circumstances. The SOS is required to revoke a notary commission if the notary fails to maintain a residence or a regular place of work or business in this state or if the notary fails to maintain status as a legal resident of the United States.
CIVIL LIABILITY (Section 486.805)
A notary shall be liable to any person for all damages proximately caused that person by the notary's negligence, intentional violation of law, or official misconduct in relation to a notarization.
A surety for a notary's bond shall be liable to any person for damages proximately caused that person by the notary's negligence, intentional violation of law, or official misconduct in relation to a notarization during the bond term, but this liability shall not exceed the dollar amount of the bond or of any remaining bond funds that have not been disbursed to other claimants.
An employer of a notary shall be liable to any person for all damages proximately caused that person by the notary's negligence, intentional violation of law, or official misconduct in performing a notarization during the course of employment, if the employer directed, expected, encouraged, approved, or tolerated the notary's negligence, violation of law, or official misconduct either in the particular transaction or, impliedly, by the employer's previous action in at least one similar transaction involving any notary employed by the employer.
CRIMINAL LIABILITY (Section 578.700)
On the Part of a Notary
A notary shall be guilty of a misdemeanor for knowingly committing any of the following:
• Failing to require the presence of a principal at the time of a notarial act;
• Failing to identify a principal through personal knowledge or satisfactory evidence; or
• Executing a false notarial certificate.
Additionally, a notary who performs any other act prohibited by this act or fails to perform a required act shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of no more than $500 or imprisonment of not more than 6 months, or both.
On the Part of Non-Notaries
Any person who is not a notary and who knowingly acts as or otherwise impersonates a notary shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable upon conviction by a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both.
Any person who knowingly obtains, conceals, defaces, or destroys the seal, journal, or official records of a notary or who knowingly solicits, coerces, or in any way influences a notary to commit official misconduct shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable upon conviction by a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars.
The provisions of this act become effective January 1, 2020.
This act is substantially similar to HB 495 (2019), the perfected SS/SCS/SB 1023 (2018), and HB 2590 (2018).