The notary is a legal professional entrusted with a mission of public authority, drafting contracts in an authentic form on behalf of clients, providing them with a specific date, and retaining the original documents while issuing copies. They hold an office after being appointed by a decree from the Ministry of Justice.
The activitiy carried out within a notary’s office require compliance with certain accounting, legal, and tax standards, which we are proficient in.
Houdart A&C’s services in chartered accounting expertise and statutory auditing address the challenges of the profession. Our knowledge of this sector enables us to master the specificities and issues unique to the notary profession, as elaborated below..
Houdart A&C’s technical expertise as a notary’s chartered accountant
Houdart A&C serves several notary offices as clients, particularly as their chartered accountant, and possesses a thorough understanding of the daily challenges you face, both in accounting and in tax and social matters.
The diversity of our expertise allows us to support you beyond accounting revision and professional tax declarations, including matters related to provident funds, retirement planning, asset management, or simply the day-to-day management of your notary office
We handle the payroll for notary office employees and are fully conversant with the specific provisions of the collective agreement applicable to this profession.
The Characteristics of the Notary Profession
A Regulated Profession
A notary is, therefore, a public and ministerial officer.
When authenticating a deed (such as in the case of a real estate sale by mutual agreement, for example), the notary does so in their capacity as a public officer. They carry out this function as a liberal profession.
When a notary is appointed for a specific operation by a jurisdiction (e.g., appointed by a judge for settling an estate), within the scope of that operation, they act as a ministerial officer..
To practice his profession, a notary must be appointed to a notary office by order of the Minister of Justice.
This request must be made through the OPM portal – public or ministerial officers.
The notary does not usually act for either party, even as a public officer. They must act with impartiality and provide the same advice and information to each party
Indeed, the notary is subject to strict ethical rules:
- The notary is bound by professional secrecy.
- They must remain neutral, which implies that, barring a few exceptions, they cannot engage in commercial activities.
- They must remain impartial and, by acting with integrity, they can act in the interests of two different parties.
- The notaries must ensure the transparency of their fees and are also bound by the respect of legal tariffs.
- They are also bound by the duty to advise, nd must ensure its clarity.
The “Macron Law” of August 6, 2015, modified the framework for the professional practice of notaries by creating interprofessional practice companies and gradually ending the numerus clausus.
Specificities of Notary Accounting
Notaries have their own chart of accounts. They are also subject to significant accounting constraints. These are described in the Decree No. 45-0117 of December 19, 1945, “implemented for the application of the notary statute.” The main elements are described below. The software used is specific to notarial offices.
The establishment of certain registers is mandatory, including :
- The cash journal contains all accounting transactions on a daily basis, item by item. It is numbered and initialed by the president of the notary chamber or a delegated member.
- The register of assets is also numbered and initialed. This book records entrusted documents containing personal commitments, ensuring their safekeeping until restitution.
- The general cash ledger contains all general and specific accounts. Therefore, it presents an account for each client with the revenues and expenses made for that client.
- The register of deed fees contains, in chronological order, the deeds received by the notary under the name of the debtor client, with the details of fees and charges for each deed.
- The special register of quarterly balances.
Each notary must issue a receipt for any amount received, including the date of receipt, the name, and address of the paying party, etc. It must comply with the model determined by the Minister of Justice.
In addition to general accounting requirements, it is essential to distinguish between recording operations carried out by a notary’s office, sums managed on behalf of third parties, and sums intended to be earned as fees and expenses. Amounts belonging to third parties are allocated to a separate account from the office’s operational account, managed by the CDC (Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations)..
Specific legal features of the notarial sector
The profession of a notary can be practiced individually, within a Civil Professional Company (SCP), or within a Professional Liberal Company (SEL), such as SELARL or SELAS. Since the Law of August 6, 2015, notaries have the possibility to be partners in multidisciplinary Financial Companies for Liberal Professions (SPFPL).
This “Law for Growth, Activity and Equal Economic Opportunity” also introduced regulated freedom of installation with a location card revised every two years, revised the regulated rates applicable by the profession, and modified the area of competence for certain activities..
The activity of the Commissioner of Justice is subject to the non-commercial profits regime for individual operators or partners of transparently taxed civil professional corporations. SELs, except for single-member SELARL (but it can opt for it), are subject to corporate income tax.
Notaries’ services are subject to VAT at the standard rate. Disbursements are excluded from the VAT taxable base when the conditions of common law are met (prior and explicit mandate, etc.).
Applicable Collective Agreement
It is necessary to refer to the national collective agreement of notaries dated June 8, 2001. It can be consulted on Légifrance (French official legal website).
The High Council of Notaries has national competence. It is the highest authority of the professional organization.
There are also departmental chambers and regional councils whose role is to organize and supervise the practice of the profession at the departmental and regional levels..
Frequently asked questions about notarial studies
In what legal form can the notary activity be exercised?
Notaries may work on an individual basis (sole proprietorship, individual limited liability company, single-member limited liability company), or within a civil professional corporation (CPC) or a liberal professional corporation (LPC, single-member LPC).
How to evaluate the right to present a notary’s office?
The evaluation of a Commissioner of Justice’s office is based on the application of multiples of turnover, result, and EBITDA, which are commonly used in the profession. However, before applying these multiples, it is important to restate non-normal elements that could bias this evaluation.
What is a Financial Participation Company of Liberal Professions?
The Financial Participation Company of Liberal Professions (SPFPL) is a legal form dedicated to liberal professions that allows the holding of one or several interests in sociétés d’exercice libéral (SEL) (liberal professional corporations).
The 2006 Services Directive and the Law of March 28, 2011 paved the way for the inter-professional capitalization of SPFPLs, which are a legal tool for grouping together multi-professional liberal studies..
What collective agreement applies to the notary activity?
The national collective agreement for notaries, dated December 16, 2021 (IDCC 02205), applies to all employees working for a notary’s office, professional notary groups and organizations, as well as the personnel of statutory bodies of the profession.
What types of services can our firm provide for a notary’s office?
We have expertise in regulated professions, and in particular notarial studies, where we act as an expert accountant or statutory auditor.
As a chartered accountant, our mission involves assisting the notary’s office beyond the annual account review, tax declarations, and balance sheet preparation in collaboration with the internal teams. We help with choosing an appropriate legal status in line with their evolving choices and regulatory constraints, inform the management about accounting and tax changes affecting their profession, and advise on decisions involving the associates’ assets. We are also capable of handling the preparation of payroll for the notary’s office.
As a statutory auditor, during a legal audit, we implement a constructive approach, based on a review of your internal control and the conduct of substantive tests.