Authenticating documents is now easy in Rwanda following the recent approval of private notaries.
From now on, you can wake up and walk to the nearest notary office to authenticate your certificates, sales agreement, and cooperative statute and others, except land titles.
In case you are sick but have urgency, you can even call the notary to see you at home.
It is a relief in Rwanda where, a couple of years ago, one was compelled to board a bus to the district office to have a degree certificate or other documents certified by a government-appointed notary.
This required to deposit and wait for three days or even a week.
In a bid to ease access to this service, Rwanda on April 25 endorsed the oaths of the first 84 private notaries to add on to the already existing 911 government notaries located in 30 districts.
The private team of notaries is made up of lawyers in active legal practice, and qualified personnel in the judicial system, who will take up the responsibility in a more flexible way compared to public notaries.
“Poor service among notaries is not because they are not trustworthy. Most of the citizens’ complaints show that public notaries are negligent in their responsibilities. That is why the private notaries have to do a better job on timely delivery of services,” Minister Johnston Busingye said during the swearing in of the notaries.
Private notaries will have power to authenticate articles of association, contracts, powers of attorney, statements, and certifying copies of certificates.
However they cannot authenticate land titles, except a will which is written in a single document including movable and immovable property.
The private notaries will have two statuses and will be legally bound by the existing legal structure of notaries, but those with other jobs will be working from their offices, but add the notice of notary services on their roadside sign post, or open another office.
Only a phone call away, citizens will be able to find alternative notary services at their offices, but under special circumstance- like if a citizen is critically sick, will the private notaries be able to find the citizens where they are.
One of the new private notaries, Jean Nepomuscene Mugengangabo, a Commercial law advocate told KTPress that taking on this new assignment means flexibility and time management.
“We have to balance depending on the weekly schedule and finding time for courts and notary services. But what is important is to provide time for the clients. Citizens can call us but it’s illegal, we have to be available in offices” said Mugengangabo.
In order to control the schedules and meet demand of citizens Mugengangabo says private notaries will be available after working hours and in weekends which is not the case for public notaries
This is expected to reduce on the queues that most citizens make for hours at the sector and district levels waiting for an official to surface and notify their papers- which at time ends up with some citizens returning home empty handed.
While any civil servant can have a colleague standing in when they go on leave, it never applies when it comes to notaries.
Private notaries could be a relief for service seekers.
Meanwhile, the service fee will remain uniform among public and private notaries.