0

What is the lawful implication of text enclosed within a (stroked) text box in a document? I have heard this means this text is left out of the contract, or possibly adds an exception to it. I included an example of what I describe. CALIFORNIA ALL-PURPOSE CERTIFICATE OF ACKNOWLEDGMENT. Boxed text: "A notary public or other officer completing this certificate verifies only the identity of the individual who signed the document to which this certificate is attached, and not the truthfulness, accuracy, or validity of that document."  Underneath: "State of California"

2 Answers 2

1

California Civil Code §1189 requires California notarial officers to include the box mentioned in the original post in acknowledgement certificates (and some other notarial certificates as well). §1189 goes on to state

(c) On documents to be filed in another state or jurisdiction of the United States, a California notary public may complete any acknowledgment form as may be required in that other state or jurisdiction on a document, provided the form does not require the notary to determine or certify that the signer holds a particular representative capacity or to make other determinations and certifications not allowed by California law.

It's not clear to me if, when ¶ c applies, the box is required. But whenever the box is required, it's a warning mandated by the State of California and put in place by the notary as an officer of California. Since the acknowledgement is a step that occurs after the signing of the contract, it isn't part of the contract.

If somehow the box ends up in a document that is acknowledged outside California, it becomes unclear who is responsible for placing the box in the document. It could be a signer, another party to the document, or the notary. The statement is relatively innocuous, and states something that is more or less true, so probably doesn't affect the contract. If the authority that regulates the notary becomes aware of it, and considers the notary responsible for placing the box in the document, the notary might be punished for overstepping his/her authority by writing unsolicited legal advice in the document.

The box is not strictly true, because confirming the identity of individual who signed the document is not all that the notary must verify. The notary must also verify that the acknowledgement was taken on the date given, and in the venue given. In some states the notary is required to ask the signer if he/she signed voluntarily. But I suspect the problems that would occur if the notary neglected to figure out where he/she was, or what the date was, wouldn't be any different because the box is present.

2
  • Your comments help me comprehend more about the box. You say "Since the acknowledgement is a step that occurs after the signing of the contract, it isn't part of the contract." This explains, at some level, the vague notion that initiated my question about the box being 'not part of the contract'. I am wondering if ¶ c may apply to other, non-maritime, jurisdictions, where mandates of the State of California, would not be necessarily observed. Would this be correct?
    – Materea
    Jul 7, 2022 at 2:33
  • ¶ c would apply if a California notary were taking an acknowledgement which is to be sent to a jurisdiction that requires some acknowledgement certificate different from the CA certificate. Most states accept any certificate that is lawful in the place where the acknowledgement is taken, but at one point in time Massachusetts required the certificate to state that the signature was voluntary. Jul 7, 2022 at 3:46
5

What is the lawful implication of text enclosed within a (stroked) text box in a document? I have heard this means this text is left out of the contract, or possibly adds an exception to it.

You are mistaken.

The boxed language means that the notary public who authenticates the document has liability only if an imposter signs the contract, not for anything else in the contract.

The liability of the person signing the contract is not affected by the boxed language.

For example, suppose that someone purporting to be Fred signs an affidavit of Fred in a real estate transaction that falsely states that the real estate is free of toxic waste when the person signing it knows that it is actually a toxic waste burial site.

If the affidavit that Martin, a notary public, notarizes is actually signed by Jane, then Martin and Jane both have liability to anyone harmed by the fact that the buyer in the real estate transaction believed that the affidavit was signed by Fred when it was not.

But, if the affidavit is actually signed by Fred, then Fred may have liability to someone harmed by the fact that the affidavit was false, but Martin will not have liability for notarizing Fred's signature.

This is the default rule of U.S. law in any case, so the boxed language doesn't actually have any legal effect.

The boxed language is probably present to alert people, such as people from Latin America or Europe, who are familiar with a legal regime in which a notary public has a more expansive set of responsibilities than a notary public does in the U.S.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .