Notaries form the third branch of the legal profession in England and Wales. They are the oldest, having existed in virtually the same form for hundreds of years, and the smallest, numbering less than one thousand.
The appointment and regulation of Notaries is a function carried out by the Court of Faculties of the Archbishop of Canterbury. This function derives from the Ecclesiastical Licences Act of 1533, which was enacted as part of the reformation. Prior to the act, faculties were issued from Rome by the Pope.
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